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Colorful field of wild flowers

With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the news and our lives, and with stress levels soaring because of it, I thought I would discuss a topic of a lighter note: Wildflower and Tree Seed Bombs. While it might suggest a topic of a less serious note, some of the words associated with the subject have some severe associations. Just the word “bomb” does not bring to mind something the family can make and do together. On the contrary, making these seed bombs is also a fun family project while we are subject to stay-at-home laws.

And the hobby of “guerrilla gardening” also does not conjure up an image of a fun way to spend a weekend day. Though it sounds radical, guerrilla gardening is not an overtly political or polarizing endeavor. Its objective is simple: transform unused land into gardens. People all over the globe are drawn to this humble mission and are taking up arms in the form of shovels, compost, plants, bulbs, and seed bombs in an attempt to bring their communities back to life.Urban guerrilla gardening site with new plants and trees

One might think that wildflower and tree seed bombing is a newfangled hipster way to plant seed and help the environment, but not so. Even though one can throw the seed bombs out of a moving car, from a bicycle, or on a hike, seed bombing is an ancient practice that goes back to the feudal days of Japan. While on the surface it seems like a simple concept, like most things in life, to get the most good out of it, one needs to put a little thought into it. Furthermore, believe it or not, seed bombing can be illegal, so here are some tips from a New York Times article and from a few other DIY gardening articles.

Recipe

While there are a number of seed bomb recipes one can use, make sure you use one that can lead to the greatest rate of seed germination and ultimate success. Just like any good recipe in the kitchen, for this garden recipe you will need a mixing bowl and baking sheets. Summarizing a recipe from Daniel Cunningham, a horticulturalist at Texas A&M, add one-part native wildflower seed mix to four parts powdered clay and five parts fine-gained compost. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and stir in water slowly until you have a thick bread-dough consistency.

Gather a small pinch of this seed-infused mud mixture and roll it into marble-sized balls. A cup of seeds can yield dozens of the seed bomb balls. Set the balls on a cookie sheet and let them dry in the sun. These clay balls protect the seed from the heat of the sun. They’re heavy enough to be unaffected by the wind or heavy rains and the hard clay casing deters animal nibblers as well. Person holding a seed bomb ball in their fingersIn dry areas, the shape of the ball actually gives enough shade to conserve moisture. The seeds begin to germinate, and the ball breaks apart. The small pile of crumbles provides the start for the root system but is still heavy enough to anchor the emerging seeds to the ground.

Types of seeds to use and when to plant

Make sure the seeds you are using are native to your area, whether they be wildflower or tree seeds. The last thing you want to do is introduce invasive species to your area. I have spent countless hours in the local National Park and surrounding areas removing invasive species that are wrecking havoc on old established forest growth.

Fall to early spring is the best time to make and throw seed bombs. Seed bombs need water and moderate temperatures to succeed. The seeds of many northern species need to experience a winter cold period before the seeds will germinate. Sowing the seeds during the cold and wet time of year will give these seeds the best chance to work their way into a soil niche and provide the cold stratification they need for germination. By mid-May, the landscape begins to warm, and the soil dries out. This makes late spring a riskier environment for seed germination if you cannot provide supplemental water.Tree Seed Bomb

Leaving a Positive Impact

Now that your seed bombs are ready to go and the time of year for planting is right, now what. Believe it or not, you just can’t throw your seed bombs wherever you want. It can actually be illegal to do so. We don’t want you to end up in jail! Don’t throw your seed bombs on farm land, you don’t want to interfere with agricultural production. If in an urban area, while most people won’t call the police on you for trying to liven up a blighted area, it is best to get permission first so you won’t be accused of vandalism or trespassing. Seed bombs are a delightful idea and, if done with the planning previously discussed, I really can’t see why anyone would reasonably object.

Using native plant seed balls is a great way to reseed the landscape and to reclaim bare patches of land. In Texas, some of the highest concentrations of wildflowers can be found along highways thanks in part to the work of former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, over 50 years ago. And there have even been proposals in recent years to adopt the idea on an industrial scale to repopulate vast areas with trees. Reforesting devastated, blighted areas that are lacking vegetation is what The Gifted Tree advocates, by planting memorial and celebration trees in 30 plus countries worldwide. As Lady Bird Johnson once said: “ugliness is so grim.”Beautiful purple wildflowers along Texas highways

Funeral flowers have always been the traditional bereavement gift to send when someone loses a cherished loved one. Sometimes, however, flowers are not appropriate or practical to send. As I write this during the COVID-19 pandemic, many flower shops are shut down and funeral services are extremely small if they are able to take place at all. However, now is an important time to send loved ones we’re separated from a memorable experience. Our deepest condolences go out to those affected by this crisis.

Gift trees planted in memory of a person or pet are a perfect remembrance gift and serve as an ideal alternative to sending flowers. Trees are still being planted in areas around the world where it is safe to do so or will start up again as soon as the conditions are right. The Gifted Tree plants in 30 plus countries around the world on six continents, and all of these areas are in desperate need of reforestation.

I have come up with five reasons why gift trees make unique flower alternatives which I will discuss more in depth below. I am sure there are more, but let us just focus on the five below:

Gift Trees Make a Powerful and Everlasting Tribute

Fresh flowers are beautiful and smell wonderful, but the fact of the matter is that they do only last a short period of time. Those sent from a florist are the freshest and best but will not survive much longer than a week. Furthermore, I have been at wakes and funeral services where the grieving family is inundated with flower arrangements. They have no way to transport them from the funeral home back home, nor do they have the space is their home to set them all out. Numerous times, because I am usually the last to leave, I am handed an arrangement to take simply because there is no other alternative except to throw them out.Dead Flower Arrangement

A gift tree on the other hand can last for 100 years or more and grow from a sapling to a majestic living monument.

Gift Trees have a Lower Price Point

This is not meant to be disrespectful to the floral industry as I realize there are a lot of factors that go into the price of a flower arrangement from transportation, to labor, to waste. However, it is hard to place an order for an arrangement that is less than $100, especially if one has to add in the cost of delivery. And this is not for a giant arrangement. Furthermore, if one wants to send a funeral wreath or casket spray, the cost can run much much higher. Again, all beautiful, but not necessarily within everyone’s budget.

Gift trees can create a memorable experience and at a much lower price point. Plantings with a unique certificate sent to the family start at $12.95 at The Gifted Tree, and on average run between $29 – $34.

Gift Trees are Good for the Environment

While the flower industry is certainly making inroads on the environmental front, the fact is that a lot of flowers currently are not grown locally but grown overseas. Shipping them stateside has a huge carbon footprint impact. Pesticides is another issue as the flower industry is one of the largest users of pesticides in the world. Pesticides can have both an adverse effect on workers, as they rarely have training on the safe use and handling of the chemicals, plus, the runoff of the pesticides into nearby lakes and streams pose a threat to water systems. Finally, there is the issue of waste to consider, and I am not just talking about stems that are discarded or dead flowers that are pitched. Think about the non-biodegradable foam that is used to hold the arrangements in place and the protective plastic wrap that is used.

Gift trees not only show the recipient that you care but are a gift to the world too. Simply, the environmental benefits of trees are enormous, including helping the air that we breath and the water that we drink.

Gift Trees are Practical Even Months After the Funeral

It is sad to say, but in this day and age with friends and acquaintances spread out over the globe, sometimes I do not hear of a death until weeks after the fact. I catch wind of it on social media or I finally get a phone call with the news. The funeral service has long since passed and visitation is no longer. At this point, it would not be appropriate to send flowers to the residence of the family of the deceased.

Planting a gift tree accompanied by our beautiful presentation certificates makes sense and is always appreciated even months after the service. It even makes sense to plant a tree in memory a year later, marking the year anniversary of the death. So, if you are late to the process, there is no reason to fret as the planting of a gift tree will still be appropriate and appreciated.

Gift Trees Show You Care during the Difficult Time of Bereavement

Sure, sending flowers can help during this tough time, but planting a memorial gift tree has all the above added benefits which make it the perfect alternative to flowers. As one recipient of our gift tree packaged noted: “The tree planting certificate presentation is much more than a card, it is a whole experience that provided me comfort at a time of grieving.”

Remember, speaking of creating a memorable experience, sending gift trees for happy occasions is always a perfect alternative also. If you have any doubts, check this out for the right time to send a gift tree.

From all of us at The Gifted Tree, please stay safe and healthy!

Brilliantly colored Cherry Blossom trees with Mt. Fuji in the background

Leap year graphic of person jumping over a canyon

As we all know, this Saturday, February 29, 2020, is a Leap Day . Leap year is a calendar year that contains an additional day added to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year or seasonal year. Leap years are necessary because the actual length of a year is 365.242 days, not 365 days, as we are taught early on. Because astronomical events and seasons do not repeat in a whole number of days, calendars that have the same number of days in each year drift over time with respect to the event that the year is supposed to track. By inserting an additional day, the drift can be corrected.

The Leap Year Tree – a New Tradition

There are several traditions around the world associated with Leap Year, but none in the United States as far as we know. While we know every day is a great day to plant trees, The Gifted Tree proposes that leap day, February 29th, become an extra special day to plant trees. If you follow our logic, which I will explain in a moment, the world’s deforestation issue will certainly be helped.

Leap Year History

First of all, some history – The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE and replaced the Roman calendar. Julius Caesar’s goal was to simplify things and he was behind the origin of leap year. However, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII further refined the calendar (the Gregorian calendar) with the rule that leap day would occur in any year divisible by four. This is the calendar that we in the United States use today.Tree frog on tree branch

Leap Year – Historical Traditions

Regarding historical leap year traditions, February 29 is a big day in Ireland and is known as Bachelor’s Day, the day where women are encouraged to initiate dances and propose marriage. According to an old Irish legend, St. Brigid struck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar.

In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on leap day, just as Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. Greeks consider it unlucky for couples to marry during a leap year, and especially on Leap Day. Leap day is also St. Oswald’s Day, named after the archbishop of York, who died on February 29, 992. And in many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 must buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition!

The Leap Tree Frog

None of those traditions seems to have carried over to this country, but as stated above, The Gifted Tree proposes that Leap Day be an extra special day to plant trees. Follow our “logic” and I think you will agree. Leap Year and Leap Day are, for logical reasons, associated with frogs. And Tree Frogs are very popular. And what do Tree Frogs like? Trees of course. Thus, we need to plant more trees so that the habitat of the tree frog is perpetuated and we will always have tree frogs to dazzle us.Tree frog on tree

“Logic” Wins Out

But just as important to helping tree frogs, if we plant a tree on Leap Day, February 29th, in a hundred years when trees when trees not planted on leap day will be reaching their life span, our Leap Year trees will only be 25 and in the prime of their existence!. The trees we plant on February 29th will last four times as long and will help solve the earth’s deforestation problem. A simple solution with far-reaching benefits: Helping the habitat of our tree frog friends and increasing the globe’s tree canopy.

Do Your Part

So, this Saturday, February 29th, as the sun starts to rise,  help start our new tradition of planting Leap Trees, be it in celebration or in memory, and give the world an extra-lasting gift too!

Leap year sunrise

Mother and Daughter embracing

At The Gifted Tree we speak to many customers every day. Most are calling to plant a memorial tree for a family member, friend or someone they did not even know but are related to someone they know. They are genuinely touched to be able to connect with someone special to them and know that it helps the recipient in a time of grieving. Before ending the call with the customer, I always mention to think of The Gifted Tree during happier times, such as a wedding or birthday. This surprises them and the most common response is “Oh, I never thought about that as an occasion to plant a tree.” The fact is a gift tree in honor or celebration fits any occasion and boy does this world need to plant more trees!

The World Needs More Trees Planted

The news is full of stories about the growing deforestation issue in this country and around the world. The Australian bushfires are currently a daily news item and before that is was the fires in the Amazon rain forest. Fires are not the only destructive element existing. Disease is another major issue. Just this past week, my newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio had a headline talking about the shrinking tree canopy (https://bit.ly/2GyQwHK ). In the last decade, 5,000 football fields worth of trees are gone, and that is in only one county. The emerald ash bore is a major culprit (I lost 10 ash trees in my back yard in the last year to this disease), but so are more violent storms caused by climate change. Clear-cutting for suburban residential and industrial projects is another big factor. And this problem is not going away. Millions and millions of trees will need to be planted, and The Gifted Tree is here to help.

A Gift Tree Fits Any Occasion – Even Happy Ones!

When a colleague loses a parent or a friend’s dog dies, planting a memorial tree is an ideal way to express sympathy. But as mentioned above, gifting a tree fits every occasion. A birthday tree makes sense, especially for an older person who probably doesn’t need another “thing.” A wedding is another occasion where a gift tree will resonate with the couple as they look to establish their roots. Miss the wedding gift opportunity, don’t fret, a first or fifth anniversary gives you another opportunity. The first anniversary is the paper anniversary (paper comes from trees, get it?). And something I just learned; wood is the traditional gift for the fifth anniversary, so a tree fits perfectly.

Other situations also call for the planting of a gift tree. Acknowledging a teacher or coach who has gone above and beyond as well as honoring the birth of a baby who will grow as the gift tree blossoms and grows. Celebrating landing a dream job, getting a promotion or moving into a new home, all gift tree giving opportunities.

Don’t forget about planting a gift tree for a retirement or graduation. Or just a general “thinking of you” tree where you can let the recipient know that our lives are happier, richer, and more beautiful because of you, and with the planting of this tree in their honor, now our world will be too.

How To Write a Sympathy Letter Heart Tree

Gift Trees To Celebrate a Holiday? Yes!

But another reason I bring this up is that holidays are a perfect opportunity to give a gift tree. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, surprise a sweetheart with the planting of a gift tree. He or she will be more than touched by the gesture. They will realize that this is a gift to the world too!

Gift Trees – A Gift To The World Too

As you can see, there are many ways to celebrate or honor someone with the planting of a gift tree.  And at The Gifted Tree, you can let your writing talents shine through too as each certificate has space for a custom, personalized message. But don’t stress if you struggle to find the right words.  We all do from time to time, and The Gifted Tree can take a little weight off your shoulders by offering a range of heartfelt message options for you to include on your gift tree certificate. You can write your own message or use one of our suggestions. Either way, we’ll make sure your voice and your sentiments shine through. When all is said and done, not only does planting a gift tree fit every occasion, but you are giving the world a gift too!

Christmas Tree Farm

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree …

We all know the song, but do we know that there are 25 – 30 million real Christmas trees sold in the United States every year. And currently there are an additional 350 million trees growing on Christmas tree farms in this country on approximately 350,000 acres of green land. We will get back to some more fun facts in a moment, but where did this industry get its start? An industry that supports 15,000 Christmas tree farms and employs over 100,000 full and part-time people. (Full disclosure: you can not plant a gift tree on a Christmas tree farm with The Gifted Tree, but we do plant in 30+ countries.)

The History of the Christmas Tree

The history of the Christmas Tree stretches back over 2,000 years, and according to historian Deemer Cass of the London-based Fantastic Gardeners, Christians weren’t the first to admire and decorate Christmas trees. Pagans used to worship evergreen trees as a symbol of fertility.  Plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

According to History.com, Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition, as we now know it, in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

How did the tradition come to America?

Christmas Tree on a Boat

Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

In 1846, History.com reports that the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.

The Christmas tree had arrived.

By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.

The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.

Christmas tree fun facts

Christmas Tree Farm in Winter with SnowChristmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.

It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6 – 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.

Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska. The top Christmas Tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.

The tallest living Christmas tree is believed to be the 122-foot, 91-year-old Douglas fir in the town of Woodinville, Washington.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began in 1931 but had humble beginnings. According to The New York Times, the tradition started during the Great Depression when construction workers put up a mere 20-foot tree in the plaza and decorated it with paper garlands, strings of cranberries, and tin cans. Today, a Norway spruce no taller than 100 feet is chosen every year, is laden with over 25,000 Christmas lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star that weighs more than 9,000 pounds.

Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White House. While in 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.

Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family.

77 million Christmas trees are planted each year, and on average, over 2,000 Christmas trees are planted per acre.

Other types of trees such as cherry and hawthorns were used as Christmas trees in the past.

Thomas Edison’s assistants came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees instead of traditional candles. It stood in Edison’s power plant in Manhattan, set on a rotating box so that passersby could see all 80 blinking red, white, and blue lights. In 1882, no one had seen anything like it.Christmas Tree Lights

In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran.

Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons. Realize that Christmas trees are a home to a lot of insects and microorganisms, so when you bring one home, make sure you shake it thoroughly before bringing it inside.

In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day.

Christmas trees were once hung upside down like chandeliers, and that custom is still common in parts of Europe.

In 1984, the National Christmas Tree was lit on December 13th with temperatures in the 70s, making it one of the warmest tree lightings in history.

The best-selling trees are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir and White Pine, although the Nordmann Fir is considered the leader among Christmas trees. The Nordmann Fir has been a popular Christmas tree choice in Europe for a number of years and is gaining momentum in the United States. It’s preferred among other evergreens due to its excellent needle retention, the softness of the needles and how it’s perfect for people with allergies. The tree’s lack of the usual Christmas tree aroma makes it ideal for those who can’t tolerate the fragrance, according to HolidayTreeFarm.com.

Real vs. artificial Christmas trees.

If you prefer an artificial tree, you’re not alone. This option is cheaper and lower maintenance. Artificial trees date back to the 1880s, when Germans looking to offset deforestation made the first ones from dyed goose feathers held together with wire. Since then, people around the world have made fake trees out of aluminum, cardboard, and glass, although most artificial Christmas trees sold today are made from PVC plastic with about 80% made in China.

Unfortunately, most fake trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead. Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource and are grown for the purpose of being a Christmas tree. “You’re not doing any harm by cutting down a Christmas tree,” Clint Springer, a botanist and professor of biology at Philadelphia’s Saint Joseph’s University, told The New York Times in a recent interview. “A lot of people think artificial is better because you’re preserving the life of a tree. But in this case, you’ve got a crop that’s being raised for that purpose.”

There are also more than 4,000 local Christmas Tree recycling programs throughout the United States. And the trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers and placed in ponds to provide shelter for fish. Just don’t burn them in your fireplace as the soot can be bad for your chimney.

Christmas Tree in a Car

Whichever type of tree you choose, just be safe. Christmas trees have, on average, started 160 house fires per year. We want everyone to relax, enjoy and spend some good quality time with the family this holiday season. Happy Holidays from The Gifted Tree!

 

Tree clear-cutting showing the ravaging effects of deforestation

Showing the ravaging effects of deforestation

Half the World’s Trees Gone

The destruction of many of the world’s forests is occurring and occurring swiftly. Whether the deforestation going on globally is causing climate change and global warming is sometimes debated, but it is pretty much universally agreed that one simple deforestation solution is to plant more trees. It is a cost-effective way to help and The Gifted Tree is doing its best to aid in the cause. More on that in a bit, but another way to help is to stop deforestation by not cutting down as many trees in the first place.

Every year, an estimated 15 billion trees are chopped down across the planet to make room for agricultural and urban lands and other uses. We’ve cut down so many, in fact, that what’s left is about half of the number of trees that the Earth supported before the rise of human civilization, and scientists warn that it’s not helping our climate.

Causes of Climate Change and Global Warming?

Global deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. When trees are cut down, says Stanford University professor Rob Jackson, who chairs the Earth System Science Department and Global Carbon Project, it can release years of a forests’ stored carbon back into the atmosphere. “Forests provide many benefits beyond storing carbon,” Jackson continues. “They store and recycle our water, they prevent erosion, they harbor biodiversity. There’s a legion of reasons to protect forests, especially in the tropics. When we plant forests, we gain some of those benefits, but it takes a long time to grow a healthy forest.” Rebuilding woodland is a slow and often difficult task which requires patience. It can take several decades or longer for forests to regrow as viable habitats, and to absorb the same amount of carbon lost when trees are cut and burned.

Where to Plant is Vital

Global heat map indicating the best places to plant trees on earth

Global heat map indicating the best places to plant trees on earth

What we are learning is that not every spec of earth is suitable for planting trees. Some land does need to be used for crops and pastures, but there is much outlaying and marginal land that can best be served by planting trees on it. Thus, it is vitally important to understand where it is best to plant trees. Using high-tech satellite photography, scientist can determine the natural level of tree cover across a range of ecosystems. A recently released study by a Swiss company in the journal Science estimates there are approximately 2.2 billion acres of land worldwide suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions. The global tree restoration potential report found that there is enough suitable land to increase the world’s forest cover by one-third without affecting existing cities or agriculture. It turns out that more than half the potential to restore trees can be found in just six countries: Russia, USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China. These countries have so much potential because they’ve already removed much of their existing forests, said lead author of the study, Jean-Francois Bastin.

Monitoring Tree Planting is Essential

Successful tree reforestation needs to be done in the right manner. As The Gifted Tree works with tree planting partners around the world, we are learning that programs that work long-term take into account native plant species. There also needs to be a sustained commitment to monitoring forests, not just one-off tree planting events. The upside is this monitoring and educating economically benefits the local population by creating jobs and reduces erosion that damages homes and crops.

When done right, the impact is tremendous. The Swiss study concluded that if all available 2.2 billion acres of new trees were to be planted, around 500 billion saplings, once they reach maturity could absorb 220 gigatons of carbon, the equivalent to about two thirds of man-made carbon emissions since the start of the Industrial revolution. While some of these facts have been challenged as an easy solution to the climate change issue, it is pretty much agreed that the planting of trees matters.

Success Stories From Your Gift Trees

This is why The Gifted Tree is working with dedicated tree partners to not only plant trees, but to monitor their growth to help ensure long-term sustainability. To provide a few examples, take the planting project in Peru where a lot of the forest has been lost to illegal mining. Not only are old growth trees being cut and burned, but miners use diesel pumps to suck up deep layers of the earth, then push the soil through filters to extract gold particles. To turn the particles into nuggets, mercury is stirred in helping bind the particles but also poisoning the land, turning it into desert-like land – dry, sandy, stripped of topsoil and ringed by trunks of dead tree. Our partners are planting saplings of various species native to this part of the Peruvian Amazon, thus when you plant a gift tree in Peru, it is helping bring back the Amazon forest to its original grandeur.

In another project closer to home, focus is on former mining sites in the Appalachian forests of West Virginia and trying to reverse bad planting techniques employed by mining companies in the 1980s. Back then the companies used heavy machinery to push upturned soil back into place. The result was soil so compacted that rainwater would just wash off and not get into the tree roots. The planted species had shallow roots or were non-native trees that could endure but wouldn’t reach their full height or restore the forest to what it had been. Now we understand better what is needed, and your gift trees are native Appalachian trees that can prosper and bring back these forests to what they once were.

Deforestation Solutions: Not an Either-Or Choice

These and other planting projects undertaken by The Gifted Tree planting partners are helping with forest reforestation around the world which we think is one of the best climate change solutions available today. That does not alter the vital importance of protecting existing forests by limiting deforestation since new forests can take decades to mature. Slowing down or putting a halt to deforestation or planting new forests – it’s not an either-or choice. We can do both