We have passed the Spring Equinox. The days are growing longer than the nights, the sun is warming the earth, and flowers and animals are returning. And yet, we humans find ourselves in a unique situation trying to re-find our natural balance in life. Some are searching for their “new normal.” With so many people under stay at home orders, we are seeing nature is in fact re-finding its balance. There are animals returning to places they haven’t been in a very long time. The dolphins and swans have returned to the canals of Italy, elephants are roaming free through garden groves in India. Other changes, like pollution being lowered all over the world because of the closure of factories and people not driving hours to work and home every day are also brightening our outlook about this pandemic. But what of our own balance? Most of us have had to make major changes to our daily social routines.
Humans are social creatures. And with such a task as self-isolation and social distancing being required of us, we find ourselves in new uncharted territory. But humans are highly adaptable. And people are finding ways to be social even while home and practicing social isolation and social distancing. We are seeing a return of community that we haven’t seen in a very long time, perhaps not since the invention of television. People are walking their dogs, playing with their kids or siblings in the front yard, riding their bikes, and visiting lakes and beaches. People make it a point to say hi from their porches and introduce themselves from a distance. On a nice day you may see people tinkering in their garage or with their cars, playing cornhole on the lawn, or flying a remote-controlled helicopter. In more rural areas, people have a chance to ride their horses, visit lakes and streams and fish, and hike. In cities we are seeing folks singing and exercising with each other from their own balconies. Musicians are doing balcony performances. And almost everywhere, family members in different households are video chatting and sending letters to each other.
It looks like we are indeed re-finding our natural balance during difficult times. We are staying connected, staying social, and getting closer, in the midst of social “distancing.”
We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before. All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.
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!