One decade, 1 million trees. That's the goal of ReTree Nebraska.
The 10-year initiative will raise public awareness of the value of trees, reverse the decline of Nebraska's community tree resources and improve the diversity and sustainability of trees in communities across the state for generations to come, says Scott Josiah, director of the Nebraska Forest Service at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Assessments of more than 200 community tree inventories conducted by the Nebraska Forest Service since 1977 show the state has lost nearly half its community forest resources since the late 1970s.
"In a largely agricultural and prairie state, community forests are absolutely essential for contributing to and preserving Nebraska's 'Good Life'," Josiah says. "We all benefit every day from the efforts of thousands of people who planted and cared for trees in our cities and towns years ago. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to continue this tradition of tree planting so they can continue to enjoy the many benefits of a healthy community forest."
The goal of planting 1 million trees in the state's cities and towns over 10 years is ambitious, but those involved with the initiative are confident Nebraskans will rise to the challenge, Josiah says.
"Planting a tree or trees is a choice, not something we have to do," explains Kim Todd, landscape horticulture specialist at UNL. "That's the beauty of it. This will happen one town, one tree, one shovel at a time."
Another goal of ReTree Nebraska is increasing species diversity in Nebraska's community forests.
"Good species diversity is a common measure of community forest health and sustainability," according to Eric Berg, Nebraska Forest Service community forestry program leader. "This is a lesson we learned the hard way with Dutch elm disease, pine wilt and, soon, emerald ash borer."
Berg recommends no single tree species make up more than 10% of the entire community forest resource.
By working closely with the Nebraska Arborists Association and Nebraska Nursery and Landscape Association, ReTree Nebraska organizers are confident that Nebraskans will have access to both high-quality nursery stock and well-trained, certified arborists.
Because Nebraska's community forests are faced with numerous threats, including severe weather, drought and both current and emerging tree pests, such as pine wilt and emerald ash borer, public education will be a key component of the ReTree Nebraska initiative as well.
For more information visit www.retreenebraska.unl.edu or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.