It's Arbor Day! Plant a Tree!

Today (Friday, April 27) is Arbor Day, a holiday with its origins in the pioneer days on the Nebraska plains in the 1870s. Back then, farmers needed to plant trees as wind breaks to keep the plowed soil from blowing away. While I have mixed feelings about most of the Great Plains falling under the plow, which necessitated the planting of trees (that would never have naturally occurred there), I do believe that planting native trees in places where they belong is a good thing. You can read the history of Arbor Day here and learn about the Arbor Day Foundation here.

The Nature Conservancy is using the celebration of Arbor Day to focus attention on their Plant a Billion Trees project. The project focuses on restoration in the Atlantic Forest region of southeastern Brazil. I spent a week birding in this amazing part of the world back in 2008 (you can read a few of my blog posts here.) I witnessed vast tracts of forest, filled with birds and animals. And I also saw thousands of acres where the trees had been removed—often by slash-and-burn—and the land turned over to agricultural use. Some areas were so overgrazed and eroded that they were just bare, rocky earth.

The goal of this restoration project is to plant a billion trees in Brazil's Atlantic Forest by 2015. To help make this happen, TNC is asking for donation of a dollar per tree. More details can be found on the project's fancy, informative website:

Or, if you're wanting to make an impact closer to home, plant a native tree in your own backyard. Then stand back and take a deep breath of fresh air, because (don't forget) without trees, we would have a lot less oxygen to breathe.

Myself, I plan to find a really nice old tree on Arbor Day, put my arms around it and give it a long hug.
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