American Forests has partnered with Girl Scouts to launch the Girl Scout Tree Promise, an initiative to plant 5 million trees across the United States in five years. The first national nonprofit conservation organization to protect and restore the country’s forests, American Forests has been the pathfinder for the forest conservation movement since its founding in 1875. In the early 1900s, for example, American Forests rallied forest advocates to champion the creation of the U.S. Forest Service.
Today American Forests focuses on building a movement to reforest America, from bustling cities to large, rural landscapes. The organization is largely driven by the important role that forests play in solving two critical issues: climate change and social inequity.
Forests are the best nature-based solution to climate change. Annually, they capture 15 percent of U.S. carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, and they have the potential to capture nearly twice as much if we plant more trees, use climate-smart forest restoration practices, and create more jobs related to tree care. But climate change supercharges the traditional stressors on our forests, making it hard to harness their full potential. Wildfires are severe, tree pests and diseases are prevalent, and droughts are frequent, largely because of climate change.
Social inequities, particularly in cities, also motivate American Forests’ work; in almost every U.S. city, a map of tree cover is also a map of income and race. There are often few trees in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. That’s why it’s our moral imperative to create Tree Equity so everyone benefits from trees. Peoples’ health, wealth, and other factors of livelihood are at stake if we don’t take action.
American Forests’ work is further driven by a commitment to protect bodies of water and wildlife. Forests act like a sponge—they absorb rainfall, which eventually flows into rivers and streams that provide us with a clean and steady supply of water. More than half of the United States’ drinking water comes from these waterways. Clearly, forests remain key to addressing our global biodiversity crisis. Not to mention they provide habitats for 80 percent of terrestrial-based species.
Learn more about American Forests’ crucial work at www.americanforests.org.