Tree sapling
Credit: Arbor Day Foundation ‘Replanting Our Forests’ video screen capture.

Replanting trees may not always be the first priority after a natural disaster. But Abbie Eisenhart of the Arbor Day Foundation says it can be an important part of long-term recovery.

Over the past five years, the Foundation’s tree recovery program has distributed nearly 4.7 million trees to communities, many rebuilding after devastating wildfires or hurricanes. In most cases, the trees are distributed to individual homeowners.

Eisenhart: “They go home with proper tree-planting materials. There’s often times tree-planting demonstrations so folks understand how to best care for this tree when they get home.”

Eisenhart says trees provide multiple benefits, helping to cool cities, absorb and store carbon, reduce storm run-off, and filter air pollutants. Plus, she says, people are emotionally connected to the trees in their yards and neighborhoods. Losing them can be devastating.

Eisenhart: “There’s an intrinsic loss that happens when these trees are gone. I have hugged people and I have cried with people who are really, really emotionally invested in getting these trees back, because the trees that they had really meant something to them, above and beyond these environmental effects. They’re just so overjoyed to be able to get some of that back.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...