Bold environmental initiative seeks to plant 5 million trees nationwide by 2020
Richard Harper, extension associate professor of urban and community forestry in the Department of Environmental Conservation, recently teamed up with Liza Ahearn, a Girl Scout troop leader from Littleton, to help her lead her troop to making a big contribution to a national scouting initiative. Thanks to fortuitous networking, Ahearn’s troop received saplings as part a national scouting tree promise to plant 5 million trees by 2026. In late April, these sixteen fourth graders dug deep, planting trees in a conservation area and in their own front lawns, as they did their part.
Ahearn says, “Sometimes random outreach turns into great opportunities.” After receiving the email from Ahearn with a request for tree seedlings, Harper was delighted to donate several dozen small trees that he and Nicholas Brazee, extension plant pathologist, had transplanted the previous year. He had been maintaining these trees that were originally intended for the University of Massachusetts Physical Plant 2020 Arbor Day giveaway – an event that was cancelled due to COVID-19. “I’m really pleased that Lisa reached out to the UMass Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment and UMass Extension with her initial request; Extension is all about making connections and supporting programs throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts” said Harper. As they grow, these trees will continue to sequester carbon and deliver other critical environmental benefits in increasing magnitude. All of these species are native to New England and include black gum, serviceberry, red bud and basswood.
The girl planted all 36 trees, 12 of them at Cloverdale Conservation Area in Littleton, with others at scouts’ homes in Ayer, Chelmsford, Groton and Littleton. Their troop connected with Rick Findlay from the Littleton Conservation Trust to choose sites best suited to young trees. They explored the land and learned more about protecting and preserving forests. Recently, the troop released a video about the importance of planting trees.
Ahearn said this effort helps to develop experience in leadership projects. The scouts will be completing their Outdoor Journey project by creating a video for YouTube to communicate the importance of trees and to demonstrate proper techniques for planting them. “Not only is this great for wildlife, it will also help ease the effects of climate change.”