By Nate Gosweiler
“Each generation takes the earth as trustees”
—J. Sterling Morton, leading advocate for Arbor Day’s creation
Tomorrow, Friday, April 24, Arbor Day for Pennsylvania, although Arbor Day occurs at different times in the year depending on the seasonal weather most conducive for tree growth across the country. The first state-wide arbor day in the US occurred in Nebraska on April 10, 1874, after the insistence and tree-planting advocacy of the journalist J. Sterling Morton.
In celebration of this “greening” holiday, I wanted to post a little more information about tree-planting initiatives and projects that I found particularly interesting.
Starting off with the contributions of Falvey Memorial Library staff, Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian Archivist, led an initiative to photograph the trees on Villanova’s campus across the four seasons. This collection can be found in the digital library, here, and includes 60 different trees with multiple photos detailing the foliage, bark, and seeds of each tree. Chris Hallberg, Library Technology Developer, and Bang uploaded the locations of these trees to OpenStreetMap, which you can find here. I know I will be using their resources to learn which tree is what on campus. In addition to Falvey Library staff contributions, Villanova was designated a Tree Campus USA school in 2017 in recognition of its management of unique varieties of trees.
In Philadelphia, the Treephilly project strives to reach 30% tree canopy coverage for every neighborhood in the city, donating 1,000 trees to city residents each year. Although the current pandemic has forced Treephilly to suspend its springtime tree giveaway events, they may resume tree giveaways in the fall. At this point, Treephilly has donated and planted over 21,000 trees in the city of Philadelphia. (Here is the Treephilly website)
The Plant a Billion Trees campaign, run by the Nature Conservancy, is a large-scale forest restoration project. Founded in the US in 1951, the Nature Conservancy has had over a million members, impacting conservation in 79 countries and territories over six continents. You can learn more about the Nature Conservancy and their Plant a Billion Trees project here.
Tree planting is not exclusive to arbor day, as there are many places and people around the world who value the cultivation of forest. One story that I find incredible is the life’s work of Jadav Payeng, who planted untold numbers of trees in his home state of Assam in northeastern India. Over the course of four decades, Payeng reforested an island that was previously a sandbar with scant vegetation. If you would like to learn more about Jadav Payeng’s efforts, click here.
Nate Gosweiler is a graduate assistant for Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication department.