Every year, more and more of our National Forests are affected by natural disturbances that cause deforestation. Wildfire, insects and disease — exacerbated by climate change — are jeopardizing the very things that make our forests special.
Our National Forests are very important to the health of our planet, including everyone (and every thing) living on it. National Forests sustain more than 3,000 species of wildlife and more than 10,000 species of plants, and they contain watersheds that provide tens of millions of Americans with water in thousands of communities, including here in Colorado. On top of all that, forests in the U.S. are the most efficient natural system for pulling carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere, offsetting between 10 and 20 percent of U.S. emissions each year.
Supporting our National Forests through reforestation efforts is vital to stemming the effects of climate change for future generations. Leading the charge is the National Forest Foundation's "50 Million for Our Forests" tree-planting campaign, the largest campaign in support of reforesting our publicly owned National Forests. Reforestation helps sustain and increase the carbon sequestration potential of our National Forests, mitigating the effects of global climate change.
If 50 million trees sounds like a lot, that's because it is. But big goals equal bigger payoffs, and the impact 50 million trees would have on the future of our climate is nothing short of monumental.
Over the course of its lifetime, one tree can sequester 1/2 a metric ton of CO2. Multiply that by 50,000,000 and we're talking a total of 25 metric tons of CO2 prevented from entering our atmosphere over the next 100 years. That's enough to offset emissions from powering 3 million homes, 6.3 coal-fired power plants, or 331,000 tanker trucks of gasoline!
To date, the NFF has planted more than 29 million trees across thousands of acres of our National Forests with the help of individual donors, small businesses and corporate partners. Though we're more than halfway toward the 50-million goal, the work continues all along the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Coast, the Western Great Lakes and the Appalachias.
The NFF works with the U.S. Forest Service to select planting sites on the 193-million-acre National Forest System where the ecological need is greatest, and only plants native and ecologically appropriate species picked by Forest Service professionals to improve ecological conditions for each specific forest.
While the Forest Service is tasked with managing our National Forests, the rate of deforestation caused by wildfires and other natural events has outpaced the agency's ability to respond. There are currently more than 1 million acres of National Forests in urgent need of reforestation.
Planting trees helps restore forest cover and ensure that our forests can continue to provide wildlife habitat, supply water to millions of Americans, and help stem the effects of climate change. Best of all, it's easy for anyone to get involved. For every dollar donated, the NFF funds the planting of one tree. These donations are then matched in-kind by the National Forest Service to pay for things like site assessments, seed collection, seed growth and professional planting, and future monitoring to ensure success.
CHCD is a proud Small Business Partner with the National Forest Foundation and is excited to support the 50 Million for Our Forests campaign. We invite you to join us and the NFF as we work toward our goal of planting 50 million trees by making a donation and supporting fellow NFF partners. Together, we'll restore thousands of acres of our National Forests for today and for future generations.