Companies, cities and organisations across the United States (US) announced on 27 August they will help combat extreme heat, wildfires and adverse effects of climate change by conserving, restoring and growing more than 855 million trees. Healthy, resilient forests are a critical nature-based solution for the climate crisis and pledges already made by 26 US-based organisations mark the launch of the first regional chapter of 1t.org, the global trillion trees movement, in the US.
Jad Daley, president and chief executive officer of American Forests, non-profit conservation organisation, says studies show trees can reduce temperatures by four to five degrees celsius and energy costs by $7.8 billion a year. He says when forests are managed properly by for example, planting specially-selected tree species in burned areas and using novel planting techniques for resilience to future wildfires, the chance of extreme wildfires occurring also decreases dramatically.
Pledges show an advancement in conservation, restoration and reforestation goals within the US and internationally, a significant effort towards the trillion trees goal, covering an area of 2.8 million acres. As independent and non-partisan institutions, they are supported by the 1t.org US Stakeholder Council, a bipartisan group of senior-level representatives from government, business, civil society and academia who are informing the strategic direction of the initiative.
“The 1t.org US Chapter launches at a perfect time, uniting diverse organisations and people working for a trillion trees so they can do more and do it better, working together. It aligns with the trillion trees movement quickly building in the US, including bi-partisan congressional support for historic forest conservation legislation, new commitments from corporations and non governmental organisations to help address carbon emissions with reforestation,” says Daley.
Justin Adams, director of Nature Based Solutions at the World Economic Forum, says they have seen enormous energy and enthusiasm to conserve and restore our forests. He says a nature-positive recovery is crucial to a great reset of our society and economy and putting trees at the heart of this reset will help ensure it is sustainable for us and future generations.
Investing in forests will also help improve the economy and public health, and in the US alone, every $1 million invested in tree planting and other forest restoration activities creates almost 40 jobs. Globally, sustainable management of forests would create $230 billion in business opportunities and 16 million jobs worldwide by 2030.
Adams says from a health perspective, trees absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants a year, helping to prevent 670 000 cases of asthma and other acute respiratory symptoms annually. He says in America, forests and forest products currently capture 15% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and conserving, restoring and growing trees can enable US forests to capture nearly double the emissions.
“The World Economic Forum launched 1t.org at the Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos, Switzerland. It is designed to support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021 to 2030 whose goals are to accelerate global restoration of degraded ecosystems, to fight the climate crisis, enhance food security, provide clean water and protect biodiversity on the planet,” says Adams. VIDEO: Supplied