A recent study in Portland, Oregon has found a possible link between healthy urban forests and healthy newborns. Their preliminary findings are that where there was a greater amount of tree cover in the expectant mothers' neighborhoods, fewer undersized infants were born. Could this be a newly-discovered item to add to the long list of the benefits of urban forests? Read more at
Want to plant more trees in urban and rural forests around the world? Vote for American Forests in Lowe's Charity Contest at http://www.lowes.com/give and help us plant more trees than ever this year. You can vote once per day, per email address, so don't forget to keep coming back to plant even more trees
Last month, our friends at Alliance for Community Trees once again organized their National Neighborwoods Month, helping ordinary, every-day people across the country make an extraordinary difference to their community by planting trees.
Now that Neighborwoods Month is over, the numbers are in, and we can see just how many people came together this year to make their neighborhoods a little greener. This October, an impressive 26,000 volunteers in 192 cities united to plant more than 41,000 trees!
We know that trees provide us with a lot of great benefits. Clean air, clean water, carbon storage, etc. They can protect us from erosion, stormwater runoff, and more. But a new study suggests that trees do even more than we realized: they can fight crime too!
The study by the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest and Southern Research Stations used crime data and site descriptions to draw a correlation between trees and criminal activity. They found that big trees in particular seem to discourage crime, signaling to potential criminals that the neighborhood is well cared for, and more closely monitored.
Washington, DC roofs are being taken over - by plants! The city's green roof movement began only a few years ago, but has quickly become a success. As of 2009, the city boasted an impressive 2 million square feet of green rooftops. What was behind this sudden spike in popularity?
Despite its reputation as the City of Trees, the nation's capitol has its share of environmental concerns. Water quality has long been a problem, exacerbated by the amount of stormwater runoff that enters the city's rivers after washing over countless yards of impervious surfaces like sidewalks and roads. One way to fix the problem is the construction of several additional stormwater tunnels, but the project comes with such a large price tag that progress is essentially at a standstill.
Air quality is another problem. The city's already high asthma rates have increased over the past few decades. According to an urban ecosystem analysis that American Forests performed in 2002, the city lost 64% of its tree cover over the last 30 years. The loss of trees has contributed greatly to the increase in air and water pollution, and while efforts to plant more have increased, so has the need for further action.
Enter rooftop gardens. The movement has been spearheaded by the government itself - a positive step, when so much of the city's real estate is government-owned. Buildings like the USDA headquarters and the Department of Transportation have received green makeovers, as well as many privately-owned buildings, like the Reeves Center, the World Wildlife Fund, and the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Learn more about the green roofs in our nation's capitol at
The Cultural Landscape Foundation hosts a special initiative each year to draw attention to a specific aspect of our nation's landscape, and to garner support for its protection. The initiative is called Landslide, and has helped bring many unique and ecologically valuable landscapes and features to the public eye.
Landslide 2010 is right up our alley: Every Tree Tells A Story. The initiative focuses on trees that seem to be nothing but normal, but in fact have unique and inspiring stories. Similar to our own Historic Trees, these specimens have contributed to local culture and history, as well as the local ecosystem. Learn more about Every Tree Tells A Story at http://tclf.org/sites/default/files/microsites/everytree/index.html
Every Tree Tells A Story has also produced a beautiful 2011 calendar featuring 12 of the program's most beautiful and unusual trees. Want to win one? Enter our Fall Foliage Photo Contest on Facebook, and you'll have a chance to win a free issue of our magazine, as well as a free Every Tree Tells A Story calendar! If you've taken any photos of beautiful fall trees, whether in a national park or your own back yard, then you have what it takes to enter! View contest rules here.
Kids care about the environment too! That was the message of this latest tree planting in Worcester, MA, where American Forests teamed up with Scotties Facial Tissues' Trees Rock campaign and the Worcester Tree Initiative. The planting brought together youth groups from across the community, including local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.
The kids planted 65 trees at a local community college campus, and learned about the importance of trees to an urban community. The city of Worcester has learned firsthand how vital trees can be, as the Asian longhorned beetle recently decimated their own urban forest cover. This planting is part of an overall effort to re-tree the city and restore their urban tree canopy.
After years of debate, the city of Charlotte, NC passed a new ordinance increasing the number of trees that builders and developers are required to leave on their properties, from 10% to 15%.
The new ordinance is a result of years of studies in Charlotte that show the city's diminishing urban tree canopy. One of these studies was an Urban Ecosystem Analysis performed by American Forests, which determined that since 1985, the city of Charlotte lost 50% of its urban tree canopy, and the whole of Mecklenburg county lost roughly 30%. You can view the analysis at
A healthy urban tree canopy is vital to a city, as the trees provide many natural ecosystem benefits, like improving air and water quality and reducing stormwater runoff. Without the trees to perform these services, they must by performed by artificial means, which are very expensive to maintain.
Though we know that "global warming" is a misnomer, it certainly doesn't seem that far off lately, does it? Things seem to be getting a little extra toasty this year? Have you noticed hotter days earlier in the summer, for instance? Temps in the city going through the roof when its only June? Yeah, we noticed too. Things are getting hotter in urban areas across the country. The culprits? Climate change and increased development.
But the real question is, what can we do about it? Well, you could just hunker down in your home or office, crank up the AC, and hope things get better, but that won't really help. In fact, with the extra power your AC will be using, it will probably just make things worse. What you CAN do, and urge your city and community to do, is plant more trees! Seriously. We all know that shade makes things cooler, but in the city its even more extreme. Cities have more reflective and impervious surfaces, which amplifies sunlight and heat. Going from an open city corner to the shade of a nearby tree on a sunny day could mean a difference of 10 degrees, or 20, or even more!
Trees also clean the air of pollution. Lets face it: hot air is bad, but dirty hot air is just plain gross. And pollution also contributes to those high temperatures.
Last but not least, trees store carbon (which cities produce plenty of), cutting down on the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere that are contributing to climate change, which is what is making it so darn hot in the first place!
Planting trees is cheaper, cleaner, and more effective than running your AC 24/7, so get to it! You can even nominate your city for an urban Global ReLeaf project at http://www.americanforests.org. Don't forget: plant a tree, and cool the globe.
The city of Charlotte has lost half its urban tree canopy in the last 25 years or so. Needless to say, this is a problem. But a new proposed measure to help build up that canopy is being met with quite a lot of opposition from the city's builders and developers, who claim that the controversial ordinance would negatively affect their businesses. Clearly we can't have it both ways, so tell us what you think: is the environmental gain worth the economic loss?
Despite its reputation as a "green" city, a recent report reveals that Charlotte, NC has lost literally half its urban tree canopy in just the last 25 years. Urban trees are vital to a city, for both ecological and economic reasons. They provide services like stormwater mitigation, carbon sequestration, and much more - services that cost quite a lot when provided by synthetic means instead of natural. Read more about Charlotte's predicament at http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/05/09/1424284/city-cant-ignore-its-massive-tree.html
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