Trillion Trees: Opportunities to rebuild western forests

Aurora Cutler
Office of Sustainability and Climate
October 15th, 2020 at 8:33AM
A picture showing several trees with a fire burning just behind them on a mountain ridge.
Science backed reforestation efforts, may help to plant more resilient forests in areas where environmental conditions are changing. By growing forests in ways to meet the demands of our future environment, tree planting can deliver big resilience dividends.

Armed with the best science available, the USDA Forest Service and partners are preparing to restore forests ravaged by fire to be more fire adapted and resilient to future climate conditions.

To date, Forest Service has identified 1.3 million acres of reforestation opportunities and areas of need in national forests across the country. Now the Trillion Trees platform, the global reforestation effort to restore and retain forests around the world, can help the Forest Service add as many as 200 million new trees to the forest landscape.

This global initiative begins in the United States in a record “fire year,” which, so far, has seen unprecedented wildfire activity.  The acrid scent of smoke serves us all a bitter but necessary reminder of our dependence upon healthy forests, rivers, and grasslands which provide, ecological, human, and economical benefits to the individual and surrounding communities. Today unhealthy forests stressed by fire, drought, disease and overgrowth, are in need now more than ever.

Planting trees, after severe wildfires, is one tool the Forest Service uses in conjunction with the agency’s broader active forest land management strategy. Replanting trees offers areas that are struggling to recover, an expedited return to healthy forest conditions, returning the forest ecosystem to equilibrium sooner.

With all this in mind, a recent Executive Order was signed into law pledging support for Trillion Trees. This new Executive Order formalizes the engagement by federal agencies to contribute to re-growing and conserving the nation’s forests in partnership with US.1t.org.

Current science, and global collaboration, are foundational to informing reforestation and conservation best practices. For example, in areas where environmental conditions are changing, foresters might consider planting new trees better adapted to survive and thrive under current and anticipated future conditions.  By growing forests in ways to meet the demands of our future environment, tree planting can deliver big resilience dividends.

The Forest Service’s science-backed contribution to the Trillion Trees effort will not be done alone.  Partnerships have played, and will play, an essential role in Forest Service reforestation and conservation activities. Traditionally collaboration with Local and State Governments, and nonprofit organizations have been crucial in pursuing these objectives.

In addition to this existing coalition of partnerships, Trillion Trees has already begun to attract new partners by increasing awareness of trees as a renewable resource and as a recreation destination for citizens. So far Trillion Trees has had several pledges from partners such Starbucks, Coca-Cola, REI, Mastercard, Filson, Microsoft, and Amazon and many more to support this nation’s monumental reforestation task.

For more information on the United States involvement in the Trillion Tree platform or to make a pledge please visit the U.S. Chapter website at us.1t.org.