Small Steps for a Healthier World

By Sampson, Neil | American Forests, September-October 1989 | Go to article overview

Small Steps for a Healthier World


Sampson, Neil, American Forests


There is a great deal of evidence to support the argument that the world needs more and better trees and forests, as AFA's members have been advocating for over a century. We've been very successful in the past at mobilizing individual action, corporate investment, and government policy to achieve better forest management. But events now threaten to overtake past accomplishments, and it is time for new approaches.

The problems we face today demand more than good forest management-they call for a whole new initiative on environmental restoration and improvement. The need for additional, healthier forests is clear, while many of the forecasts of future conditions (global warming, increased air pollution, uncertain rainfall) warn of a more difficult challenge in keeping existing forests healthy.

Without healthy forests, we cannot have a healthy world. So forest-improvement initiatives can't be limited to tree farmers, forest rangers, or professional foresters. Solutions will take everyone's participation.

This concept is central to AFA's Global ReLeaf campaign. In Global ReLeaf, we urge people to take action to begin to mitigate the steady buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide -widely recognized as a prime factor driving the well-publicized "greenhouse effect." We've identified several ways in which any citizen can take action-now.

How? Well, plant a tree. Good nursery stock can be planted nearly any time of the year, and the upcoming fall season is a marvelous opportunity. If the person is willing to pay for a large, well-started tree at a local garden store or nursery, the benefits from shade and energy savings can begin to flow within a few years.

The benefits are many: trees take up carbon dioxide, store it in wood, and produce oxygen. They filter pollutants out of the air, reduce soil erosion and water pollution, and make our living spaces cooler and more pleasant. Planted in the right place next to a home or business, they cut air conditioning or heating bills, reducing the need to burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. So putting trees in the ground is one of the positive steps that any person can take in response to the greenhouse threat.

The idea is not to cure the greenhouse problem. It's to encourage people to do something positive-take one small step toward a healthier world. One step that anyone can take, with readily available technology and low initial costs. …

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