In honor of Arbor Day today, FedEx and the Arbor Day Foundation have launched a new initiative to help connect disaster-stricken communities with the resources needed for sustainable recovery and community healing.
The Community Tree Recovery program is designed to be a national resource for communities as they seek to restore their trees in the aftermath of natural disaster, FedEx says. The program provides the structure and capacity to address multiple disasters annually, distributing seedling trees to afflicted communities nationwide.
The initiative leverages community partners and on-the-ground specialists to directly help communities recover and restore their urban forests. The bulk of this aid focuses on providing high-quality seedlings to homeowners to plant on private property — where the majority of community trees reside, providing the greatest overall impact. In this manner, FedEx says, the program directly reaches property owners overwhelmed with numerous obstacles in the recovery phase, providing the resources and education to recover the community’s lost trees.
Following a natural disaster, the Arbor Day Foundation will assess its response plans against a formalized set of environmental and social filters used to determine when and how the program is activated. During the early stages of relief and recovery, the Arbor Day Foundation will work with FedEx and numerous local partners — including state foresters and city officials — to assess damage and needs, and determine a plan for storm clean-up, tree restoration and tree recovery. The program will formalize a campaign to address the needs of identified communities, including asking local business to join FedEx in donating trees and volunteers. In addition to local campaigns, the program also has a general seedling reserve fund — supported in part by FedEx — which can be leveraged to respond to pressing recovery needs.
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FedEx support for the Arbor Day Foundation includes a million-dollar, multi-year sponsorship. Through the collaboration, FedEx says it will provide leadership and resources to help disaster-stricken communities build a critical foundation to long-term, sustainable recovery.
Trees play a critical role in community health, social and economic vitality, local ecology and environmental sustainability, FedEx says. Not only can their loss be emotionally devastating for communities who have already lost so much in a disaster, but failure to properly restore community trees can impede a community’s full recovery with numerous consequences down the line.
By providing trees to communities early in the recovery process, the Community Tree Recovery program will address long-term concerns while restoring the benefits that a healthy, sustainable urban forest provides:
Air Supply: Communities need to restore trees to provide the very air they breathe. Trees combat the greenhouse effect and provide oxygen by absorbing CO2 in the atmosphere. One acre of forest is enough to meet the needs of 18 people annually.
Healthier Lives: By restoring trees, communities will ensure their residents live healthier, cleaner lives. By filtering out harmful pollutants, studies show that urban trees and forests are saving an average of one life every year per city.
Wildlife Recovery: Communities will only see local wildlife recover when they restore their trees, as trees provide homes for birds, bees, squirrels and other urban wildlife.
Risk Mitigation: Communities that restore trees will mitigate future risks like soil erosion and water pollution, as trees provide natural protection from the elements and help reduce the possibility of flooding.
Financial Value: By investing in tree replanting, homeowners can reduce financial costs from utility bills and improve real estate values. A well-planted property and surrounding neighborhood can increase property value by as much as 15 percent.
In the past decade (2002-2011), Arizona has lost a quarter of its forests to wildfires, drought and bark beetle infestation. A recent study by Arizona State University's Sustainability Solutions Services (S3) and The Nature Conservancy reveals that forest thinning could benefit the state by making its forests more resistant to environmental extremes and also strengthening rural economies.
Apple has made good use of trees in the design for its new Cupertino, Calif. Headquarters — some 80 percent of the campus is green space. When combined with one of the largest solar arrays in the world and a host of other amenities, the abundance of trees will make the Apple HQ one of the most eco-friendly facilities in Silicon Valley.