As our world continues to change quickly and sometimes dramatically, it may be easy to pine over what we have lost, and what we may not get back. It is natural to miss what was once normal. However, it is time that we look to the growing edge. We can focus our energy on what we want to grow: it is time to water the growing edge.
As people continue to seek new ways to live fulfilling lives, they are coming up against challenges.
Challenges like meeting basic needs. These are challenges that UCA has the capacity to help with. Like providing food and needed supplies for children and families. In a pilot project to meet critical needs for children in foster care, UCA provided warm winter clothes, under garments, feminine care supplies, shoes, toiletries and warm accessories. UCA also provided bicycles to middle school and high school students who would otherwise miss school due to lacking transportation options.
At UCA, we continue to seek the growing edge
We are delighted when we see organizations like One Tree Planted doing their part to restore salmon habitat. This is to grow an increase in the local salmon population to feed a suffering pod of Orca whales! UCA had to step in and do our part to support these endeavors. You can read more about that here.
We also have to water our own growing edge
That is why at UCA, we prioritize self-care for our members and provide articles like this or these. Some members want step-by-step how-to’s of self-care, while others thrive with our updates on inspiration for small acts of self-care that give a big impact. You can’t water from an empty cup, so make sure yours gets refilled regularly!
We hope to help you do your best to water your own growing edge, by staying healthy and active
We also want to know if you have any growing edges that need watering in your community. Reach out to us through access on your Membership Dashboard. We want to hear your ideas as well, and if your Share Your Caring Story about how you watered a growing edge in someone’s life or in your community, we will share it with our members on our website!
The Southern Resident Orcas, often referred to as killer whales, are an icon of the Pacific Northwest. Swimming the waters off the coast of North America from California to British Columbia, the black and white whales are one of the most recognizable and beloved marine animals in the world. Saving these Orcas turns out to be a story about whales, fish and trees.
Sadly, there are only 75 Southern Resident Orcas remaining – which makes them an endangered species, and they are starving.
Thankfully, new conservation efforts involving One Tree Planted and Promise the Pod are drawing the connection between restoring the forests of the Pacific Northwest and saving the Orcas. By repairing critical watersheds and planting lots of trees, conservationists hope to bring back the Orcas from the brink of extinction.
But what connects trees and whales? It all comes down to what they eat!
Bring Back the Chinook Salmon!
One of the biggest threats to the Orca is an ever-decreasing supply of fatty, healthy, plentiful salmon.
For thousands of years, the Southern Resident Orca population has relied primarily on Chinook salmon as a staple of their diet, amounting to some 80% of their caloric intake.
As the Orca migrate North and South along the Pacific coast they feed on the nutrient dense salmon coming downstream from the numerous rivers and streams that flow into the Pacific – and they need a lot of it!
Scientists estimate that it takes over 700 Chinook salmon to feed the entire current Southern Resident Orca population every single day.
However, once an abundant source of food, the Chinook salmon stocks have collapsed over the last 150 years. Today, just a little more than half of the Northwest Chinook salmon populations remain.
Human interference such as through fish hatcheries, dams, dykes and levees, logging, over-fishing, pollution, and highway construction are all impeding the salmon’s ability to spawn and survive – not to mention the impact climate change is having on rising water temperatures.
With all of these changes to their habitat, the number of Chinook salmon traveling from the Pacific Ocean upstream to their spawning grounds – and eventually returning to the ocean where the Orca feed upon them – has been steadily diminishing for decades.
But there is a way to improve this… by planting trees!
The Benefit of Trees Is Undeniable
Tree planting and restoring riparian zones (the areas where land meets a river or stream) across the Pacific Northwest is a simple and effective solution for protecting salmon stocks and ensuring the Orca can rely on Chinook salmon for years to come.
Planting trees has a number of knock-on effects that benefit the salmon and, ultimately, the Orca. The first of which is improved water quality.
The rivers and streams the salmon populate are filled with pollution. As the salmon feed and grow in these waters they store pollutants in their tissue until they return to the ocean where they are fed upon by Orca. Those contaminants are then passed on to the whales making them more vulnerable to disease and can even cause difficulties reproducing. Sadly, Orcas are one of the most polluted marine mammals in the world.
Trees planted along the banks of the river can help filter out toxins as water passes through the soil and into the rivers where the salmon spawn. This not only improves salmon survivability, but also improves the quality and quantity of food available to the Orca.
In the longer-term, the benefits of tree planting for salmon and Orca is much more apparent. As the trees grow and their roots spread, the banks of the rivers solidify, protecting against erosion and keeping the river water clear of excessive sediment, which is necessary for the salmon to spawn.
Trees also help provide important nutrients for the young salmon as they grow. Leaves, needles, and woody debris falling into the river create habitat for insects the salmon eat, helping them fatten up for the long journey downstream to the Pacific Ocean.
As the trees mature and the forest canopy thickens it provides critical shade over salmon spawning grounds. Salmon eggs need to be kept cool, and without adequate shade from vegetation on the banks of the river water temperatures will rise, reducing the chances the eggs have to develop and hatch.
Even dying and fallen trees on the banks of the river benefit salmon. Branches and trees that fall into the water help to slow down the flow, making it easier for the salmon to lay their eggs without them getting immediately washed away. Planting trees today means the debris created in the future ensures the salmon have plenty of spots to lay their eggs.
The trophic cascade brought on by planting trees is undeniable. Balancing an ecosystem is a major part of ensuring that critical species survive – and planting trees is a great place to start!
Trees Can’t Do It All On Their Own
We know that saving a species from extinction is much more complex than just planting trees. The Orca are affected by many other factors like ship traffic and ocean pollution, so there is no doubt that other steps must be taken to ensure their survival.
That being said, planting trees to restore critical salmon habitat will go a long way to making sure the Orca have enough healthy, toxin free food to eat – and it’s an action that can be taken today.
Thomas S. Monson is often quoted saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We have come across a wonderful interpretation of this by One Tree Planted. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization focusing on global reforestation. This is something to celebrate as others are spreading C.A.R.E. around the world! Trees are important for so much in the world. Trees help filter water to make it drinkable. They clean the air to make it more breathable for us. And trees provide habitats for 80% or more of land-living creatures. If we go beyond the natural caring that trees provide us, we find that they go further. In the book The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein shares that trees provide jobs for billions of people, as well as medicines that help us care for those we care about and ourselves.
Who is One Tree Planted?
One Tree Panted is making it easier for businesses and people around the world to “…give back to the environment, fight climate change, protect biodiversity and help reforestation efforts around the world.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/about-us) This charity began in 2014 and is going strong to this day. Through their efforts the amount of trees planted each year has grown 50% or more! Currently One Tree Planted works with amazing reforestation partners in North and South America, Africa, and Asia who help rebuild forests after natural disasters literally from the ground up! These forests not only restore the natural beauty of the regions they are in, but help create jobs and communities.
“We pool the donations for each project and send the funds to our reforestation partners. We vet our partners to ensure that we maintain a tree survival rate of 80-90%.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/about-us) A big part of why this organization has a huge success rate is due to their careful monitoring of the plants after planting. This works well with their strategy and planning before planting the trees. Below is a chart from the One Tree Planted website explaining a breakdown of their successful strategy.
The process One Tree Planted uses for reforestation is unique and interesting. Those that One Tree Planted partners with choose the most appropriate tree species to plant that works with the local community and environment. Planting begins during the rainy season when the soil is easier to dig up and allows for the newly planted tree to have the best chances of success after it is planted in the ground. Upon completion, they send out a highlights report that reflects the impact of the trees and has pictures of the projects’ success!
Trees are Important for Six Reasons
One Tree Planted has six pillars that outlines why they do what they do. These six pillars are: air, water, biodiversity, social impact, health and climate. Take a look at these short descriptions to expand upon each of the six reasons.
Trees are like nature’s scrubbing bubbles or vacuum cleaners. “Through their leaves and bark, they suck up harmful pollutants and release clean oxygen for us to breathe.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/) We can see this embraced in urban environments with the implementation of curbside rain gardens and parks. Trees absorb gases like nitrogen oxides, ozone, and carbon monoxide, and other pollutants such as smoke and dust which helps us all breath a little bit better!
Have you ever seen pictures or hiked through a redwood forest in the early morning and seen the fog being captured under the little green cupped needles? This is a great example of how trees play a big and important role in capturing water in the atmosphere. The second role that trees play in nature is below the ground where their roots help by anchoring the soil and rocks, reducing the frequency and risks of natural disasters. Much like above the ground the often intricate root systems filter out pollutants in the ground. “According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations, a mature evergreen tree can intercept more than 15,000 litres of water every year.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/)
Each tree young to old can be a home to dozens upon dozens of insects, fungi, animals, and other plants. For example in North American Young, Open Forests we can see animals like a hopefully napping black bears and chirping birds like the American goldfinch, and bluebirds calling these trees home. In Middle-Aged Forests we see taller trees that outgrow less substantial vegetation. This allows for an open canopy and the growth of different plants that are lower to the ground. It is in thee forests that we see animals like the salamander and tree frogs as well as the mighty elk. Lastly we have Older Forests. These have substantial and large trees, complex canopies, and a highly developed levels of vegetation. Old forests provide habitat for a wide and diverse array of animals. We might see bats at night flying around eating bugs, squirrels during the day gathering and storing food for the cold months, and so on. Next time you go on a walk in nature you might just notice something about the biodiversity in your local forest!
Trees are more than just homes to the local flora and fauna. They provide jobs for us people too! “…Sustainable tree farming provides timber to build homes and shelter, and wood to burn for cooking and heating. Food-producing trees provide fruit, nuts, berries, and leaves for consumption by both humans and animals, and guarantee health and nutrition.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/) We bet that you can come up with more than a few ways that trees impact you life. Just think about apples, pinecones, and paper products; they all come from trees!
We review a lot of caring research and information. During this time we have found that people recovering from illness bounce back faster when they see greenery like trees. Getting grounded in nature gives you a sense of calm, helps reduce stress and anxiety, and improves thinking clarity. Additionally, walking in a shady forest provides skin protection for harsh UV rays and nasty sunburns.
Lastly, but certainly not least, trees help the planet stay cool by eliminating nasty greenhouse gases and pollutants. They do this by storing these toxins in their trunks, branches and leaves. An additional bonus is that this process is coupled with the releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. There’s an increase in architects designing cities to have trees and forests included, much like Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. When cities are designed with forests in mind the overall temperature is often reduced by up to 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 degrees Fahrenheit). “With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities—a number expected to increase to 66% by the year 2050—pollution and overheating are becoming a real threat. Fortunately, a mature tree can absorb an average of 48 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, making cities a healthier, safer place to live.“ (https://onetreeplanted.org/) This is something we can give three cheers to! We can relate to the desire to live comfortably with lasting health benefits!
Thank you to One Tree Planted for all of your efforts and contributions to the reforestation of our planet! We at Unified Caring Association love what you are doing, and celebrate your caring actions!