Reforestation in the U.S. Isn’t What it Should Be – Here’s How We Can Help

You can’t plant more forests without seedlings, so seedling production is critical to reforestation in the U.S. Here’s what we need to know.

It is estimated that our current reforestation efforts in the U.S. aren’t sufficient to affect climate change – they aren’t even enough to replace the forests that have been destroyed by West Coast wildfires. In order to plant enough established forests to absorb the level of carbon emissions that would achieve actual climate change reversal, we have to more than double our efforts, and that means significantly boosting investment in tree-planting support.

The major roadblock to reaching our goal of three trillion trees by 2030 is the lack of funding in the tree planting pipeline. With little money for dedicated and specialized labor, seedling production, training, and infrastructure, reforestation efforts are in danger of being chronically underwhelming, if not doomed outright.

Seed Collection

Reforestation is a highly specialized endeavor. While it might seem as though planting trees is a simple enough process, improper reforestation efforts can actually cause more harm than good. It is critically important to ensure that native tree species are planted strategically and carefully in order to establish healthy forests with biologically diverse ecosystems.

Collecting seeds is an essential component of this process, and it requires a trained and experienced workforce. Accurately predicting the seed production cycle of different tree species, cleaning them safely, assessing their quality, and storing them properly so that they are capable of sprouting in the coming years is a challenging series of processes, and the number of experts in the field is diminishing rapidly.

Producing Tree Seedlings

Tree seedlings are produced in both private nurseries and those under the U.S. Forest Service. These nurseries function with only a few year-round staff members, with the bulk of the workforce being seasonal employees hired to perform the planting, harvesting, and packing of the resulting seedlings. Because many of these nurseries are located in sparsely populated regions, it is challenging to find a sufficient workforce. Competition from other companies in the agricultural sector is also stiff and attracts a greater number of workers.

Aging Infrastructure

Unfortunately, the infrastructure available to accommodate the volume of seedlings produced does not currently exist, and the resources may take years to develop. While nurseries in the private sector could be incentivized to dedicate a larger percentage of their greenhouse capacity to tree seedlings, it will require a significant investment.

The need to provide greater support to reforestation in the U.S. is urgent. Forest Founders is committed to assisting tree planting initiatives throughout the U.S. and abroad by raising awareness of the climate crisis, providing monetary aid to nonprofits dedicated to reforestation efforts, and calling upon people to sign up to plant trees. For more information about our mission, please visit our information page. To help us in our effort to plant trees, please register on our signup page.