Interested in saving trees?
A good way to get involved in hands-on forest conservation is to spearhead efforts to combat deforestation and expand protected areas and green spaces near your home. Local communities are some of the most vital and effective advocates for the natural areas around them. Read on to find out how you can protect trees near you!
Why save trees?
Healthy forests provide habitat for countless species—without trees, forest plants, animals, and other organisms cannot survive and thrive. Forests also play important roles in filtering pollutants, stopping erosion, and maintaining good water quality. As they grow, trees draw carbon from the air and store it in their tissues, reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and slowing climate change. In fact, stopping forest clearing and planting trees are two of the most effective and cost-effective solutions to the problem of global warming. Forests influence local temperature, rainfall, and cloud cover as well. It is especially important to protect large trees and old-growth forests, as these ecosystems are older, more complex, and support a greater diversity of species than forests that have been logged or degraded in the past.
In addition to their critical role in our environment and their benefits to our physical health, trees also help our mental health and well-being. Natural areas and green spaces have been shown to decrease stress, increase happiness and well-being, and promote environmental consciousness among children. Lack of access to green spaces in urban areas is an important environmental justice issue—low-income and minority populations are more likely to suffer from a deficit of natural areas near their homes.
What can you do?
Get involved in community efforts to save trees and forests near you. Check out the list below for ideas!
1. Push your elected officials to support the creation and funding of local, state, and national parks in your area, and to increase funding for conservation, natural resource management, and scientific research in your state or country.
2. Volunteer with or donate to a land trust near you, or help out your city’s parks and recreation department. Land trusts are legal entities that conserve land, sometimes allowing public access for the purposes of outdoor recreation. They often need help with trail maintenance, invasive species removal, and other tasks, and always need money for land purchases, management, and operating expenses. Your (possibly underfunded or understaffed) town’s parks and recreation department may need help as well, so give them a call!
3. If you own land with conservation potential, consider creating a conservation easement or including a donation of all or part of your land to your local government or a land trust in your will.
4. Get involved in grassroots campaigns to oppose tree removal, land clearing, residential, industrial, and hydroelectric development, and mining in your area. The clearing of land for suburban development destroys or fragments ecosystems and contributes to climate change by creating long commutes for residents. Lobby your local government to change their zoning laws to limit the spread of suburban sprawl and instead push them to support affordable, high-density housing coupled with land conservation. Fight the planned development of mines, industry, and the damming of waterways, especially if they plan to clear forests or are likely to cause significant pollution, carbon emissions, or other environmental harm. Even single trees in urban and suburban areas have important benefits for both nature and people—all trees are worth fighting for!
5. Vote! Support politicians that make issues like conservation, climate change, and environmental justice a priority. Local and state governments can have a huge impact on environmental health outcomes, so pressure your elected officials to do the right thing!
Learn about and contact your elected officials (United States)
League of Conservation Voters environmental scorecard (US federal representatives)
League of Conservation Voters endorsements (US federal representatives)
Many state conservation organizations issue scorecards for state government officials. To find out how your representatives vote on environmental issues, try googling “[your state] state representatives environmental scorecard.” Many state conservation organizations also endorse candidates.