There are certain things in nature we take for granted. We wake up and the sun is shining, or temporarily blurred by clouds. We pour a glass of water and trust it’s safe to drink. We take a deep breath of fresh air, not spending a minute worrying whether it will harm us.
But some pockets of the world don’t have this luxury today, and many experts predict more and more people across the globe won’t either as we move forward into the 21st century.
Clean air. Clean water. A livable climate. All at risk.
Trees Help Restore Our Planet
To preserve our planet for our children and future generations, we no longer have the luxury to take any of this for granted. So today, on Arbor Day, we want to put forth one word, a powerful solution to re-balance our planet: trees.
Is anything more miraculous than the simplicity and perfection of trees?
Trees are nature’s original life preserver. They’re a simple solution for a global environment increasingly at risk. Without the great cleansing of the atmosphere that trees provide; without the great purification of our soil, rivers, and aquifers that trees make possible; without trees; life on Earth wouldn’t exist.
Sadly, at the very time we need them most, trees are under assault.
- There are wildfires — like those in California in 2018 that burned almost 2 million acres and killed close to 100 people.
- There are droughts — California on the front lines again — where a drought lasting close to a decade killed more than 147 million trees across the state.
- There are insect infestations — more than 6 million acres of land across the U.S. suffer tree death from insects and disease every year.
- There is deforestation — we continue to lose more than 18 million acres of forest around the world every year. That’s roughly equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute.
Human behavior contributes to many of these tragedies. So it’s our profound responsibility to plant trees. It’s hugely important, with our planet hanging in the balance.
Arbor Day Foundation’s Time for Trees
We can’t risk that storms become more and more catastrophic. We can’t risk that the urbanization of the world puts people face to face with dangerously hot, polluted cities without abundant trees to protect them.
That’s why the Arbor Day Foundation launched Time for Trees. The goals of this initiative are to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and mobilize 5 million tree planters around the world by 2022. We’re leveraging trees — a simple, powerful solution — to preserve the necessities of life itself.
We cannot take trees for granted. Trees are not a “nice to have”; they’re a “must have.” As a nation, as a world — as people who need a survivable future — we must plant more trees now.
Trees are one thing we can all agree on. Trees are loved by all. In a contentious and fractured world, they are completely non-political. Trees can cross the technology divide, the political divide, the equality divide, and the culture divide. If ever there was a time to plant trees, now is that time.
Let’s Plant Trees Together
We already have millions of trees in the ground, with commitments to plant millions more. We’re doing this by mobilizing thousands of planting partners from local governments, campuses, like-minded nonprofits, individual members, and industry-leading private companies like Target, FedEx, Bank of America, Verizon, and more.
But we need more people involved, so I’m asking for your help to join our Time for Trees initiative. Let’s plant trees together. Every tree counts. Every tree planter is a hero.
Together, let’s restore our forests, build healthier communities, improve quality of life, and put our simplest and best solution to climate change into action. Let’s pave the way for future generations and their health and well-being.
A tree planted today will always make our lives better tomorrow. Today, on Arbor Day, and every day from here on out, take a moment to look at trees differently — as a life source, as a well of joy and natural beauty, as humanity’s life saver and preserver.
Together, let’s get this job done.
If you don’t have space or time to plant a tree yourself, you can plant a tree virtually through these organizations.
About the Author
Dan Lambe is president of the Arbor Day Foundation, developing partnerships to ensure trees are recognized as a solution to critical global issues.
Originally published on April 24, 2019, this article was updated in April 2021.