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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Fighting Climate Change with Trees in Bennington, VT

Wikimedia Commons/Todd Hatch (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Evan Lawrence

As nature-based solutions to address climate change gain more and more attention, Climate Advocates Bennington 350VT has set itself the goal of planting at least 1,000 trees in and around the southwestern Vermont town this year.

“The plan was inspired by a report last July that found planting 2 billion trees could prevent the worst effects of climate change,” said Climate Advocates member Naomi Miller. Reforestation groups have proposed planting 2 billion trees world-wide. Spurred by massive fires in the Brazilian rain forest and Australia, the World Economic Forum in Davos in January set a new goal of 1 trillion trees (1t.org), or 128 trees for every person on Earth.

How many trees go in the ground around Bennington this year will depend on how much money the group raises, Miller said. The first planting of six trees will be a ceremonial Earth Day kick-off at 2pm on Sunday April 19th at the Shaftsbury homestead of Jonas Galusha, the fifth governor of Vermont.

Other sites will probably be planted in the fall. A privately owned farm in North Bennington has committed one or two acres, Miller said. The site is being reviewed for how many trees it can support, but Miller said it could take “maybe 500.” Volunteers will plant “a carefully chosen mix of hard and softwoods,” guided by the succession of how the tree species sequester carbon, she said. Softwoods grow and fix carbon faster but have relatively short lives. Hardwoods grow more slowly but live longer and take up much more carbon over their lifetimes.

The Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington has expressed interest in being a site and is discussing details with the group, Miller said. They’ve heard from other landowners who are eager to participate.

Climate Advocates is working with the Bennington County Conservation District and the Vermont State Lands forester to determine which trees will grow best where, Miller said. The seedling trees will come from a local nursery, so that carbon emissions from transportation are minimized.

The project is not only about reforestation but also about building community and community resilience, Miller said. “You need no tree planting experience to volunteer,” she said.

To raise funds, Climate Advocates; Bennington College; Queer Connect Inc., a local LGBTQ advocacy group; and Vermont Arts Exchange planned to sponsor a concert by folk singer and activist Holly Near on March 21 at Bennington College. Proceeds after expenses were to support the tree planting project, but the concert was canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus epidemic. Organizers hope to reschedule for some time next year.

For more information and to offer support, visit www.climateadvocatesbennington.org, Climate Advocates Bennington 350VT on Facebook, or contact project coordinator Barbara True-Weber at (802) 681-7236 or trueweber@gmail.com.

Evan Lawrence is a free-lance writer in Cambridge, NY specializing in sustainability, environmental, and health topics.

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