Forest Releaf celebrates donation of 100,000th tree

St. Louis, MO (September 30, 2010)- Forest ReLeaf of Missouri was joined by hundreds of friends and supporters at a ceremony awarding its 100,000th tree to the Grace Hill Settlement House. Since 1993, the St. Louis-based Forest ReLeaf has worked with corporations, businesses, nonprofit organizations, government partners and thousands of volunteers to promote the planting and caring for our state’s trees and forests, particularly those in urban areas.

The event, held at CommuniTree Gardens, Forest ReLeaf’s nursery in Creve Coeur Park, was emceed by Karen Foss, Ameren senior vice president for communications and brand management. Guests included representatives of the Missouri Department of Conservation, St. Louis County Parks, Missouri Community Forestry Council and community partners. Forest Releaf presented Grace Hill the ceremonial tree, a Baldcypress [Taxonium distichum], which will be planted in Peace Park, a new four-acre community gathering place in the “College Hill” neighborhood of North St. Louis City.
“We are truly honored to have been selected as the recipient of Forest Releaf’s 100,000th tree,” said Johanna Wharton, vice president of Systems Integration and Advancement, Grace Hill Settlement House. “Consistent with Grace Hill’s efforts to provide healthy and economically viable neighborhoods, Forest Releaf is a great partner as we work to enhance the environmental quality of life for St. Louis residents.”
“I am extremely proud of the work Forest ReLeaf has done to promote environmental stewardship and beautify our state’s communities by building partnerships throughout Missouri,” said Foss. “Trees not only provide shade, vital habitat for wildlife and the oxygen we breathe, but the right trees in the right places provide numerous economic and aesthetic benefits.”
Trees beautify our communities, clean our air and water and provide a variety of valuable benefits. Properly cared for, trees are growing assets. Consider the following from the Arbor Day Foundation:
* Environmental Benefits: Trees provide significant environmental benefits, reducing storm water runoff, minimizing erosion and improving water quality. In addition, trees help offset carbon emissions by capturing CO2. There are about 60- to 200-million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year, saving $4 billion in energy costs.
* Economic Benefits: Trees are aesthetic and provide economic benefits by attracting new business and enhancing tourism. In fact, healthy mature trees, which often have an appraised value between $1,000 and $10,000, increase property values by an average of 10 percent.
* Energy Efficiency Benefits: Trees properly placed around buildings and homes can improve energy efficiency, reducing air conditioning needs by 30 percent and heating needs between 20 and 50 percent.
“Thanks to the thousands of friends and volunteers supporting Forest ReLeaf, we have reached a significant milestone today,” said Donna Coble, executive director of Forest ReLeaf. “The awarding of our 100,000th tree is an important step in establishing a region of healthy community trees and forests through volunteer efforts and continued partnerships with the public and private sectors.”
Earlier this year, Forest ReLeaf, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, commissioned a tree canopy assessment to measure the existing urban tree canopy in St. Louis City and approximately 30 square miles of St. Louis County. The GIS (geographic information systems) assessment was conducted by AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc. of Denver, Colo.
The purpose of this assessment, the first of its kind in St. Louis, was to identify the region’s capacity for new tree plantings, especially in under-served communities. The modeling data was then used to quantify the economic contributions these trees make to the area surveyed by factoring in their capacity to remove air pollution, capture and sequester carbon, reduce storm water runoff and improve water quality by acting as a natural filtration system. The economic value of the existing tree canopy assessed is estimated at more than $70 million.
“The St. Louis tree canopy assessment will serve as a benchmark for Forest ReLeaf’s efforts in the future,” said John Moller, chairman of Forest ReLeaf. “The data collected not only demonstrates the value trees provide our state’s communities, it identifies for us those areas in which we can do more. Celebrating our 100,000th tree is a tremendous achievement, but we can always do more to promote the stewardship of our state’s trees and forests.”
Related Resources:
St. Louis Globe-Democrat- Forest Releaf celebrates donation of 100,000th tree
Forest ReLeaf of Missouri