Spreading Holiday Cheer: How One Tree Becomes 50,000

Dec 9, 2020 9:00 AM ET

For the 12th year in a row, NBCUniversal has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation in celebrating the 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony by committing to plant one tree for each of the 50,000 bulbs strung around this year’s tree. In other words, that’s 50,000 trees being planted to rehabilitate areas impacted by hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters. This year, NBCUniversal is supporting the restoration of a critical longleaf pine ecosystem surrounding the Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, where Hurricane Michael devastated nearly 12,000 acres of forest in October 2018.

Restoring Forest Cover at Tyndall Air Force Base

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael—a Category 5 hurricane—made landfall in Florida and completely destroyed the area around Tyndall Air Force Base, located 12 miles east of Panama City. The base is nestled in the middle of a longleaf pine forest, which was already undergoing restoration efforts prior to the storm. With winds of up to 160 mph, the storm caused severe to catastrophic damage to 12,000 acres of this important ecosystem, which acts as a habitat for vulnerable plant and animal species.

This restoration effort is now in its second year with the Arbor Day Foundation. Over three years, the Foundation and its partners will plant 6,000,000 trees on Tyndall Air Force Base and ensure their long-term management.  

However, support is still needed in order to solidify a healthy future for the forested land. It’s important that we move quickly in restoring this natural ecosystem as the trees aren’t the only ones at risk. Wildlife such as the gopher tortoise, and plant species like Godfrey’s butterwort also depend on the survival of the longleaf pine.

Spreading Holiday Cheer for Years to Come

For tree lovers, the Rockefeller tree represents more than just an iconic holiday attraction. Not only is this year’s 75-foot tall, 11-ton Norway Spruce a marvel to look at, but once it’s taken down, the wood is responsibly milled and donated to be used for Habitat for Humanity. In the meantime, it’s an added bonus knowing that each sparkling LED bulb represents a fresh start for an area in need of one.

To learn more about partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation, visit https://www.arborday.org/partnerships/.

Jennifer Hallaman
Arbor Day Foundation
+1 (402) 473-2024