Article by Sophie Waterman, Chesapeake Bay Program Office and Chesapeake Research Consortium
In March of 2021 Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service became the first state agency to sign onto the 1t.org global goal to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees by 2030. The Delaware Forest Service was asked by American Forests to make a pledge to join 1t.org to plant and conserve trees in the state. Delaware has a focused pledge to be committed to sustainable forestry and stewardship, restoration of forest wetlands and headwater forests, soil and water conservation, tree planting and maintenance, forest markets, urban and community forestry, wildfire reduction, and trees as an important buffer against climate change and coastal sea-level rise. Delaware’s Urban Forestry Coordinator Kesha Braunskill took on a leadership role by be accepting to be a member of the 1t.org U.S. Stakeholder Council.
Prior to joining 1t.org initiative Delaware had created TEDI which stands for “Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative” in early 2020, which aims to plant a tree for each resident of the state, which roughly translates to 1 million trees. In early November of 2021 the first tree planting for TEDI took place in New Castle, Delaware. There is a dashboard that has been created to help keep tack of new trees being planted in the state. Residents can log on and enter data about trees they have planted. The 1t.org pledge and TEDI are the two initiatives working alongside each other to help get more trees planted in the state.
Urban Forestry Coordinator Kesha Braunskill has stated that planting trees is important, but management and conservation of trees is crucial for long term health and increased tree canopy. Delaware is taking the steps to ensure the long term health of trees through programs like Delaware Tree Stewards, which connects residents of Delaware to their landscape through tree plantings and learning how to care for those trees. The Tree Stewards program is aimed at building a core group of skilled volunteers who understand how to properly plant and care for trees across the state of Delaware.
Currently all the funding for tree planting from the state is going towards trees on public land. The hope is that in the future, funding can be directed to local communities, schools, and both public and private lands in underserved neighborhoods where the need for trees is the greatest. Some of the biggest challenges that Delaware is facing when it comes to planting trees are overcoming issues of having such a small staff and reaching out to communities to get them to plant and maintain trees.
The planting of 1 million trees is not just about planting new trees, but getting people involved with their landscape, helping build community, and getting folks aware of the importance of trees.