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US cities pledge to play their part in supporting global trillion trees movement

The cities of Boise, Dallas, Detroit and Tucson are among those committing to help combat extreme heat and wildfires, as well as other adverse effects of climate change, by protecting and planting more trees.

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Boise in Idaho has pledged to plant one tree for each household within the city
Boise in Idaho has pledged to plant one tree for each household within the city

The US cities of Boise, Dallas, Detroit and Tucson are among those committing to help combat extreme heat and wildfires, as well as other adverse effects of climate change, by conserving, restoring, and growing more than 855 million trees.

 

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced that such pledges by 26 companies, cities, and organisations across the US mark the launch of the its chapter of 1t.org, the global trillion trees movement.

 

Advancing goals

 

The US is home to the first regional chapter of 1t.org. Pledges demonstrate an advancement of conservation, restoration, and reforestation goals within the US and internationally, a significant effort and achievement toward the trillion trees goal. Trees pledged will cover 2.8 million acres.

 

The City of Boise launched the City of Trees Challenge on Arbor Day 2020, calling on the city and its residents to plant 100,000 trees (approximately one for each Boise household) within city limits. The initiative will also sponsor 235,000 seedlings (approximately one for every Boise resident) to be planted in forests around Idaho.

 

The City of Dallas has launched the Urban Forest Initiative which, as well as pledging to protect millions of trees within the city through the implementation of a Tree Ordinance, is implementing “Branching Out Dallas” to plant more than 600 trees per year in Dallas parks, and to plant more than 2,500 trees per year on private property. Together, these programmes aim to plant about 31,000 native Texas trees in 10 years.

 

The City of Detroit has pledged to plant 50,000 trees throughout its seven council districts between 2020-30 in an effort to restore its tree canopy for the future, while Regina Romero, mayor of Tucson, has committed to planting one million trees by 2030 to increase the city’s canopy.

“A nature-positive recovery is crucial to a great reset of our society and economy. Putting trees at the heart of this reset will help ensure it is sustainable for us and future generations”

Meanwhile, the Chicago Region Trees Initiative has pledged to improve the health of the urban forest in the Chicago Region and increase the city’s tree canopy by four per cent by 2050.

 

American Forest Foundation, Arbor Day Foundation, Bank of America, Mastercard, Microsoft, National Association of State Foresters, National Forest Foundation, Salesforce are also among the organisations which have committed to invest in creating healthy forests.

 

WEF and American Forests are leading the initiative and will provide individuals and organisations in the US with the tools and technical assistance they need to create and bring their pledges to life.

 

As independent and non-partisan institutions, they are supported by the1t.org US Stakeholder Council, a bipartisan group of senior-level representatives from government, business, civil society and academia who are informing the strategic direction of the initiative.

 

Healthy and resilient forests are a key part of efforts to combat the negative impacts of climate change. Studies have shown trees can reduce temperatures by 9 degrees and energy costs by $7.8bn a year. The chance of extreme wildfires occurring also decreases dramatically when forests are managed properly by, for example, planting specially-selected tree species in burned areas and using novel planting techniques for resilience to future wildfires.

 

“We have seen enormous energy and enthusiasm to conserve and restore our forests,” said Justin Adams, director of Nature Based Solutions, WEF. “A nature-positive recovery is crucial to a great reset of our society and economy. Putting trees at the heart of this reset will help ensure it is sustainable for us and future generations.”

 

Health and economic benefits

 

WEF also highlights how investing in forests will also help improve the economy and public health. In the US alone, every $1m invested in tree planting and other forest restoration activities creates almost 40 jobs. Globally, sustainable management of forests would create $230bn in business opportunities and 16 million jobs worldwide by 2030. From a health perspective, trees absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants a year, helping to prevent 670,000 cases of asthma and other acute respiratory symptoms annually.

 

In America, forests and forest products currently capture 15 per cent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. Conserving, restoring, and growing trees can enable US forests to capture nearly double the emissions.

 

WEF launched 1t.org at this year’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. It is designed to support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 whose goals are to accelerate global restoration of degraded ecosystems, to fight the climate crisis, enhance food security, provide clean water and protect biodiversity on the planet.

 

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