April is always a big month for those within the conservation and land management communities – with celebrations for National Wildlife Week, Springs Protection Awareness Month, Keep America Beautiful Month, Earth Day and more. For the forestry folks, though, Arbor Day reigns supreme! On April 29, tree enthusiasts across the nation will celebrate 150 years of this historic tree-planting tradition.
Arbor Day gives everyone an opportunity to learn about trees and the environmental, social, economic and health benefits they provide communities. We invite everyone to join our celebration of all things arboreal by participating in any of the following tree-related activities.
1. Plant a tree
Obvious, we know… But planting trees is what Arbor Day is all about! Every tree planted for Arbor Day helps clean the air and water, beautify neighborhoods, provide homes for wildlife, conserve energy and prevent soil erosion, among many other benefits.
In addition to the national celebration on April 29, many states schedule individual state Arbor Day observances to line up with their area’s best time for tree planting. Before you plant your tree, check out these tips for tree selection and general planting guidelines, or contact a local state forestry agency for advice.
2. Attend an Arbor Day event
Arbor Day events can range from local tree planting ceremonies and free tree giveaways to guided nature walks and festival-style events. To find and attend an Arbor Day event near you, or volunteer to help, visit the Arbor Day Foundation website for more information.
3. Support the Tree City USA program in your community
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “the Tree City USA program provides communities with a four-step framework to maintain and grow their tree cover. It also gives them an avenue to celebrate their work, showing residents, visitors and the entire country that they’re committed to the mission of environmental change.”
Participation in the Tree City USA program can help communities beautify their tree canopy, improve community health and wellness, support stormwater management and flood mitigation, improve air and water quality, increase property values and tourism dollars, and more. If you would like to see your own community achieve or maintain Tree City USA recognition, reach out to your local community leaders with your support.
4. Visit state forests and other public lands
State forests and public lands across the South offer unique opportunities to experience trees and the diversity of nature. Whether taking a hike or stroll down a forest path, finding stillness while witnessing the natural rhythms of wildlife, or zooming through hilly trails on a mountain bike – taking time to enjoy forests is a great way to honor them. Connecting with forests not only helps improve health and wellness, it generates a better appreciation for all types of forests (both working and non-working) and the important benefits they provide.
Before you visit, check with the appropriate state forestry agency regarding forest rules, regulations, fees and other pertinent visitor information. Make sure to bring water, sun protection and weather/outdoor-appropriate gear. You can also lend a hand by bringing along a bag to store and properly dispose of any trash you might find or generate while exploring.
5. Lift your voice!
One of the best things you can do for our forests is to tell people how important they are! Whether contacting your local, regional or national elected representatives to voice your support for programs and policies that help conserve, protect and enhance southern forests, or simply sharing your passion with friends and family, you are doing your part to support the continuation of our forestlands.