Note: Bruce Ward and David Peri contributed the following article to our blog
At last the smoke begins to clear and it feels like we can once again get out and run and cycle and enjoy the outdoors after being warned to stay inside and avoid outdoor activities. Massive forest fires in Colorado and across the West are, once again, taking their toll on our air, our water, our wildlife, our economy, and our mental and physical health.
Literally hundreds of millions of trees in North America are dead and dying due to insect infestations, drought, and climate change, causing more intense and devastating fires. While some argue this is “nature taking its course” and we should let our forests burn, the time has come to take aggressive active management of our forests before it is too late.
So what can be done to address this seemingly overwhelming issue? There are two courses of action that need to be championed and implemented, not just in Colorado or California, but around the world focused on “New Trees.”
The Trillion Tree Campaign is a project of Plant-for-the-Planet to plant a trillion trees, a development and continuation of the activities of the earlier Billion Tree Campaign, instigated by Wangari Maathai, who founded the Green Belt Movement in Africa in 1977.
The other most effective organization dealing with a conservation tied to managing our forests is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), their mission: To advance sustainability through forest-focused collaborations.
SFI works with the forest sector, brand owners, conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners, educators, local communities, Indigenous peoples, governments, and universities. More than 360 million acres/ of forestland is certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard. These lands stretch from Canada’s boreal forest to the U.S. South. SFI’s standards, when leveraged with our three other pillars of work – conservation, community and education – provide practical, scalable solutions for markets and communities working to leverage this growing commitment to a sustainable planet.
Bruce Ward is the President of Choose Outdoors, a national non profit focused located in Denver, Colorado. It was created to help unite the many diverse interests using our public lands with emphasis on promoting and preserving access, use and the future of outdoor recreation on our public lands. He is also an Executive Producer of America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell, a series for public television whose purpose is to Inform, Inspire and Involve People in the Most Important and Entertaining Topics about America’s Forests.
David Peri is the former Director of Marketing at Breckenridge Ski Area in Colorado