To Tree Or Not To Tree? Conservation and Regeneration

It can be challenging to decide what to do about climate change.  Well, one action is simple, effective, and a proven technology:  plant trees!  In this post, we will discuss how planting trees helps conserve and regenerate land – resulting in climate change mitigation, healthier communities, and more resilient ecosystems.  So, let us look at the What, Why, Where, Who, and When.


Simple, plant trees.  There is reforestation, planting trees where they previously existed.  And there is afforestation, planting trees where they had not previously existed.  According to Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac in The Future We Choose, “few actions for addressing climate change, are as critical, as urgent, or as simple as planting trees.”   In fact, oaks are especially important to plant since they are host to many insects and wildlife, if they are planted in the right spot.  The Conservation Foundation has been pushing more oak plantings on our landscape for several years as part of a regional oak recovery initiative.  Not only simple, but effective and proven.


By preserving and restoring our natural landscape, we can help mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, create healthier communities, and improve the resiliency of ecosystems.   In fact, this may be needed.  As Figueres and Rivett-Carnac state: “While nature is innately restorative, regeneration does not always occur completely on its own.  In many cases, ecosystem restoration requires intentional human intervention.  Planting trees and shrubs in degraded or deforested landscapes is an intentional regenerative process that restores soil health, increases productivity, and stabilizes underground aquifers.”  In other words, this creates a more resilient ecosystem.

Amongst many ways that planting trees mitigates climate change is carbon absorption.  It has been estimated that afforestation, or planting trees on crop, pasture, and brush lands, absorbs as much as ten tons of carbon dioxide from the air per acre in a year.

And when it comes to making healthier communities, Bjorn Lomborg asserts that “planting trees and expanding green spaces and water features not only make for a far more pleasant city for inhabitants, but also drastically cool the highest temperatures.”


The benefits of planting trees are not limited to rural and agricultural areas.  Urban and suburban areas are also enhanced by planting trees.  Trees provide green areas in cities, reduce ambient temperature, can produce food, and stabilize aquifers in suburban areas.  Further quoting Figueres and Rivett-Carnac: “Trees will cool a city by up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  Trees also clean the air in cities by filtering fine particulate matter and absorbing pollutants.  They regulate water flow, buffer flooding, and increase urban biodiversity.  Their impact is so pronounced that urban properties surrounded by trees are worth an average of 20 percent more than those that are not.”

To learn more about how trees can help urban areas, attend our upcoming webinar CREATING A NEW URBAN FOREST on September 30, 2020 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm.  Click here to register.  


You – Every man, woman, and child!  Planting a new tree or replacing an old tree is afforestation or reforestation in a personal, impactful way.  And you can impress friends by saying you are doing afforestation and reforestation.


Now! In Illinois, Fall is still a decent time to plant. Want to get a tree?  Every spring and fall The Conservation Founation has a native plant sale including trees.  And now, we have an online ordering portal through Possibility Place Nursery where people can order plants, trees, and shrubs online and have them shipped directly to their homes, and we get 10% of the proceeds.  Click here to shop!

So, To Tree or Not To Tree?  Tree.  Ready to fight for land conservation and plant some trees?  Well, land conservation is what The Conservation Foundation does every day.  We can all do more together than we can alone.  Join our collective momentum – Become a member today!

By Steve Stawarz, Oak Brook
     DuPage County Advisory Council Member

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