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Small steps for a healthier world.

There is a great deal of evidence to support the argument that the world needs more and better trees and forests, as AFA's members have been advocating for over a century. We've been very successful in the past at mobilizing individual action, corporate investment, and government policy to achieve better forest management. But events now threaten to overtake past accomplishments, and it is time for new approaches.

The problems we face today demand more than good forest management-they call for a whole new initiative on environmental restoration and improvement. The need for additional, healthier forests is clear, while many of the forecasts of future conditions (global warming, increased air pollution, uncertain rainfall) warn of a more difficult challenge in keeping existing forests healthy.

Without healthy forests, we cannot have a healthy world. So forest-improvement initiatives can't be limited to tree farmers, forest rangers, or professional foresters. Solutions will take everyone's participation.

This concept is central to AFA's Global ReLeaf campaign. In Global ReLeaf, we urge people to take action to begin to mitigate the steady buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide -widely recognized as a prime factor driving the well-publicized "greenhouse effect." We've identified several ways in which any citizen can take action-now.

How? Well, plant a tree. Good nursery stock can be planted nearly any time of the year, and the upcoming fall season is a marvelous opportunity. If the person is willing to pay for a large, well-started tree at a local garden store or nursery, the benefits from shade and energy savings can begin to flow within a few years.

The benefits are many: trees take up carbon dioxide, store it in wood, and produce oxygen. They filter pollutants out of the air, reduce soil erosion and water pollution, and make our living spaces cooler and more pleasant. Planted in the right place next to a home or business, they cut air conditioning or heating bills, reducing the need to burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. So putting trees in the ground is one of the positive steps that any person can take in response to the greenhouse threat.

The idea is not to cure the greenhouse problem. It's to encourage people to do something positive-take one small step toward a healthier world. One step that anyone can take, with readily available technology and low initial costs. A step that makes good environmental and economic sense.

So when people call AFA and ask us what they can do, we say, "Plant a tree." If they say they don't have that opportunity, we say, "Contribute to the Global ReLeaf Fund, and we'll find an organization that can do it for you. "

The Global ReLeaf Fund is new, and just getting off the ground. But it has already attracted significant support. Corporations like the E. & J. Gallo Winery, EOSAT, and Baltimore Gas & Electric have seen it as a good vehicle for contributing to environmental improvement. As a result of their contributions, urban tree-planting projects in southern California and Maryland are moving strongly forward. Local conservation organizations are doing on-the-ground planning of projects, organizing volunteers, and seeing that the projects are successful. Rehabilitation work in the Greater Yellowstone Area will be aided as well. These are marvelous partnerships, harnessing individuals, organizations of all types, and American businesses.

But much, much more must be done. The forest fires of 1989 are far from over, but already there is a tremendous restoration job that will tax every kind of public and private assistance. For that matter, there are still left-over needs from the wildfires of previous years. In urban areas, there are willing people and good citizen's groups who need just a little financial support as a catalyst for widespread conservation action.

Concerned Americans now have an additional way of supporting environmental improvement. Through the Global ReLeaf Fund, they are assured that their money will go to real projects, making a real difference on the land. The AFA Board of Directors has established a process to assure that only the highest-quality projects are supported, and that the funds are used in the most effective ways. Because of AFA's non-profit status, contributions are tax-deductible.

The Global ReLeaf campaign is based on the idea that the most important factor in environmental quality is the willingness of people to carry out positive actions. Whether they plant a tree, join a conservation group, write their Congressmen, or send money is less important than that everyone begin to do something positive. The Global ReLeaf Fund represents one new opportunity for such action.
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Title Annotation:American Forestry Association's Global ReLeaf Campaign
Author:Sampson, Neil
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:editorial
Date:Sep 1, 1989
Words:754
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