Beyond Climate Solutions: How Our Corporate Partners Invest in People, Nature, and Wildlife

Sep 23, 2020 9:00 AM ET
Blog

This year, tree planting at-scale has gained momentum and media traction – especially around forests’ potential to act as nature’s own carbon removal technology. And with good reason. Trees are an asset that we can’t afford not to use if we want to maintain a livable climate. According to The Nature Conservancy, nature-based climate solutions could account for 37 percent of necessary reductions, with forests, specifically, making the heaviest lifts to remove carbon from the atmosphere. 

But it’s important to remember that trees are far more than just a carbon sink. Through high-impact strategic tree planting, our corporate partners drive sustainability efforts that do more than just improve our future climate outlook – they mitigate the immediate impacts of climate change for people, wildlife, and critical ecosystems around the globe.  

DISASTER RECOVERY

Our corporate partners play a leading role in the Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery program. Through this program, residents in areas affected by major disasters such as wildfires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes can receive free trees to plant in their yards. This work is critical for re-establishing neighborhood trees – which provide benefits ranging from energy savings to food sources - as well as a sense of community collaboration in the wake of disaster.

For FedEx, the opportunity to rebuild communities the company serves drives its participation in Community Tree Recovery (CTR). A key partner of the Foundation since 2012, FedEx's commitment has helped support the planting of more than 5 million trees in communities rebuilding after disasters.  For example, in 2020, FedEx and the Arbor Day Foundation worked with Plant with Purpose to plant trees in areas affected by severe drought and frequent hurricanes. In combination with soil conservation methods, tree planting helps prevent erosion and ensure protection against continued natural disasters. It also supports the livelihoods of local farmers, allowing them to increase their food production and income.

Wildfire Restoration Collaborative, including AT&T, HP, Mary Kay, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Target, are working together to plant 2 million trees across 8,000 acres of California forest land devastated by wildfires. Forest regeneration following a wildfire can take years, especially in recent record-breaking years when fires burned longer and hotter than usual, destroying seed source and preventing natural regrowth.  By driving restoration, this group of partners is helping to prevent continued challenges like mudslides, degraded soil, and diminished air and water quality for years to come.

WATER

Facebook and PepsiCo are focusing on replenishing the watersheds surrounding wildfire burn scars. Trees play a critical role in maintaining and improving water quality by intercepting and filtering stormwater, preventing soil erosion and more.  Over their lifetimes, 2 million trees planted by Arbor Day partners will result in an estimated 150 million cubic meters of avoided water runoff and cleaner water for more than 900,000 people across nine counties in northern California.

WILDLIFE

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world has seen a 60 percent decline in the size of populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in the past 40 years. Strategic tree planting can help restore the habitats of endangered species – for example, the iconic Monarch butterfly. The Monarch butterfly is an important pollinator that contributes to the health of our planet. However, due to climate change and loss of habitat, especially in Mexico and California, its population has fallen by more than 80 percent since the mid-1990s.

Each winter, millions of Monarchs migrate to Estado de México, depending on forests of Oyamel trees to protect the pollinators from seasonal rain and cold. Unfortunately, due to illegal logging and wildfires, areas of this critical habitat are severely degraded. This year, International Paper and L’Oreal USA demonstrated their commitment to sustainability and protecting biodiversity through a new partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to restore and protect the Monarch’s habitat. In addition to restoration, collaborating partners engage local communities to patrol Monarch nesting grounds, preventing illegal logging while also protecting the forest that sustains their livelihood.

URBAN EQUITY

Urban trees are a crucial resource – they improve air quality, cool urban heat islands, filter stormwater, and benefit people’s mental and physical health. However, trees are often sparse in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.  Arbor Day Foundation partners like Bank of America and TD Bank Group are working to address this issue.

Bank of America’s Community Resiliency Grant Program provides funding that will increase the number of trees planted in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. 2020 grants helped break down barriers to trees and green space and improve climate resiliency in St. Louis, MO; Durham, NC; Cleveland, OH; and Nashville, TN. This work is important now more than ever as already-vulnerable communities increasingly face the visible effects of climate change. For example, grant recipient Keep Durham Beautiful will increase urban canopy in Braggtown, decreasing the community’s exposure to extreme heat and climate stressors.   

TD Bank Group collaborated with the Foundation to create the TD Green Space Grants program, which advances environmental and economic benefits for underserved communities. TD provides grants supporting green infrastructure development, tree planting, forestry stewardship, and green space expansion in twenty cities across the United States and Canada. 2020 grants prioritized projects designed to cool urban heat islands.  

We are proud to work with corporate sustainability leaders to build a better future for generations to come. To learn more about partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation, visit https://www.arborday.org/partnerships/.

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Jen Hallaman
Arbor Day Foundation