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Hot on the heels of Earth Day comes National Arbor Day. On April 30th, 2021, we all have the opportunity to celebrate and learn more about trees. An entire day dedicated to saving trees? That’s what we’re all about at Cloud Paper. Sign us up.
Celebrations make be a bit more socially distanced this year, but we’ve still found plenty of ways you can get involved. Read on to learn more about the history of Arbor Day, how the Arbor Day Foundation benefits trees, and how you can get involved.
Arbor Day is a national holiday created to promote the planting, upkeep, and preservation of trees in urban and wild spaces. Fun fact—the word “arbor” literally means “tree” in Latin.
In the long list of days devoted to celebrating our natural environment, Arbor Day is one of the few that’s focused on tree and forest awareness and appreciation. And it's also responsible for sparking similar celebrations and tree-planting efforts around the world.
The history of Arbor starts in early 1870s Nebraska City. Julius Sterling Morton, journalist and enthusiastic tree-hugger, used his position as editor of the Nebraska City News to inspire readers to appreciate trees. He realized how important trees were to bring shade and other benefits to the flat Nebraska plains.
Morton and his wife practiced what they preached--they owned 160 acres of land in Nebraska City and during their time filled it with over 270 varieties of trees and shrubs. Today their property and home is a state park and open to the public.
But Morton also had bigger dreams. He had a vision for a day that would encourage masses of people to celebrate and plant trees. To fulfill that vision, he worked with the Nebraska Board of Agriculture on a monumental mission: organize people across the state to come together on one day and plant trees.
Originally named “Sylvan Day” from the Latin word for forests, Morton argued that all trees should be appreciated. And thus Arbor Day was born. On April 10th, 1872, people came together to plant approximately 1 million trees across the state of Nebraska.
The first Arbor Day was a huge success. The following year, schools across the country participated in their own tree-planting efforts, and within ten years nearly every state had its own version of Arbor Day.
At the urging of conservationists Gifford Pinchot and Major Israel McCreight, then-President Theodore Roosevelt made a proclamation to schoolchildren on April 15th, 1907 about trees and deforestation (Oh hey, we’ve been making proclamations about deforestation, too!):
“It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetimes the Nation’s need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed.”
A bit stuffy but we agree with the sentiment.
Nixon declared Arbor Day a national holiday in 1970 as part of a frenzy of environmental protections—the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency included. Shortly after, the Arbor Day Foundation was formed to support the mission and fund tree-planting efforts.
By the time it became a national holiday, Arbor Day had inspired similar tree-planting celebrations in over 40 countries around the world, including Japan, Australia, and South Africa.
Arbor Day 2021 will be held on April 30th. But each state may celebrate on a different day in April to take advantage of ideal tree-planting time. You can look yours up here.
Trees aren’t just pretty to look at. In urban, rural, and forested areas trees provide numerous environmental and health benefits.
Trees are good for cities and the people who live in them.
Here just a few benefits trees provide in urban areas:
Some people may live far away from forests, but we all benefit from them. Did you know for example that the Amazon rainforest drives global weather patterns?
Forests around the world provide the following benefits:
We owe a lot to forests. We have them to thank for life-saving medicines, wellness benefits, clean drinking water, and helping combat climate change.
But the benefits won’t last if we don’t stop the tree loss that’s happening worldwide.
Trees around the world are in big trouble. 175 million acres of tree cover are lost in urban and other inhabited areas every year. And it’s estimated that 18.7 million acres of forest (about 14 city parks a minute) disappear every year.
In urban areas, most trees are lost due to development and natural disasters. Fires, floods, insects, hurricanes, and other disasters claim trees in neighborhoods and city green spaces.
Forests next to populated areas are often subject to disappearing due to development. But the primary causes of deforestation globally are clearcutting for consumer goods (like toilet paper), agriculture, and wildfires.
The effects are grim. Increased urban air pollution, a rise in global temperatures due to releasing carbon dioxide, loss of biodiversity, and polluted water are just a few of the effects of tree loss.
We need trees, and we need organizations who champion the preservation and restoration of trees and forests.
The good news is that Arbor Day and the Arbor Day Foundation are working nationally and globally to restore trees to our cities and forests.
Arbor Day has grown from one state-wide effort to plant trees on one single day to a nonprofit foundation working in every corner of the world in 2021.
Here are a few of the ways that Arbor Day and the Arbor Day Foundation are saving trees everywhere.
Natural disasters claim hundreds of thousands of trees from communities every year. The Community Tree Recovery program was created in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina left the Gulf Coast devastated. The Arbor Day Foundation works closely with community leaders to distribute trees at the right time after a natural disaster hits. To date, over 5 million trees have been distributed to impacted communities around the world.
Watch the video to learn more about Community Tree Recovery:
Rain Forest Rescue recognizes the importance of tropical forests to the entire world and aims to prevent further irreparable deforestation. Some of their efforts include working with Indigenous communities to help them develop rain forest-friendly businesses, replanting forests in Madagascar, and supporting shade-grown coffee farmers.
Time for Trees is well overdue. The goal is massive: plant 150 million trees in forests and communities globally by Arbor Day 2022 (which happens to be the 150th anniversary!). The initiative also wants to inspire 5 million tree planters to continue the mission.
These are just a few of the ways Arbor Day benefits trees, forests, and communities worldwide. Want to get involved in Arbor Day's tree-saving efforts? Read on.
Bonus idea—share this post to encourage others to join in celebrating Arbor Day 2021!