Every year, The United Nations sponsors World Environment Day. This year, the focus is on forests and trees. Here are some ways you can participate and celebrate Mother Earth!
Plant a tree. This year, our family is participating in World Environment Day by replacing a tree that died in our backyard. Many trees in our community are dying because of the emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease. Every three years, we give our elm tree an injection to protect it from disease, but not all trees can be protected. That’s why it’s important to do what we can to replace trees when they get sick, when they die, or when they’re injured from storms.
Visit a national park, arboretum, or reserve. We also enjoy hiking in the woods. We have a wooded nature center in our community, which we visit often. We also enjoy going to national and state parks to hike. Last summer, we went to the Redwood National Forest in California. Walking among the tall redwoods made us realize how economic development can easily endanger our trees and that we need to find more ways to progress economically while also protecting our trees.
Read, Read, Read! You don’t need to go to a national park to learn more about trees. If your kids are young, you can check out library books about trees. Here are some recent favorites of mine:
1. A Friend for All Seasons by Julia Hubery and Mei Matsuoka (New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007).
2. Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005).
3. The Old Tree by Ruth Brown (Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2007).
4. Curious George Plants a Tree by Monica Perez (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009).
5. Count Down to Fall by Fran Hawk (Mount Pleasant, SC: Sylvan Dell Pub, 2009).
Take a walk! Get to know the trees around you. We have oaks, maples, elms, birch, flowering crabapples, eastern redbuds, spruce, Norway pine, ash, hackberry, pine, linden, beech, and more. Our kids loved to figure out what kind of tree was which. (You can figure that out by looking at their leaves.)
Go all out! One family has gone a step further in helping the environment. John and Joyce Jackson decided to plant five trees in each state over the course of 10 years so they could plant trees in all 50 states. They did this with their three kids: Robert, Christine, and Steven. Forty of the states had a community or county named Jackson, so they planted trees there in honor of their surname. With the other 10 states, they found communities that contained one of their first names.
Of course, they sought permission before planting a single tree, but communities were glad to give it. They ended up planting 252 trees in every state, at the Capitol, and also at the Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee. (This family loved to find Jackson connections wherever they could.)
So how will you celebrate World Environment Day? This year, I plan to take a walk among the trees and to marvel at how important they are to our world and our environment. Then I’ll explore the World Environment Day’s website to see what step I can take next. —Jolene
1. World Environment Day, http://www.unep.org/wed/intro/intro.html.
2. American Forests, http://www.americanforests.org/.
3. Arbor Day Foundation, http://www.arborday.org/.
4. Nick Hytrek, “Jackson, Neb., Featured in Tree-Planters’ Book,” Sioux City Journal, January 23, 2011.
5. John and Joyce Jackson, “Town of Christine Featured in Book,” Daily News, February 23, 2011.