Now through November, Pennsylvania groups will plant an estimated 300,000 trees for fall, as part of a goal of 10 million new trees in the state by 2025.
By planting 10 million trees, the state can meet its goal of 95,000 acres of riparian buffers, where native trees and shrubs are planted next to waterways to help prevent nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution from finding its way into Chesapeake Bay.
Brenda Sieglitz, senior manager of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said it has been increasing the biodiversity of the trees they offer, including species such as sugar maple, hazelnut and pawpaw.
“We really encourage people to try and take the trees and not only increase forestation in Pennsylvania but use it as a resource as well to maybe increase food production or use it as a way to maybe add something to their farm by way of fruit and nut production,” Sieglitz outlined.
The 10 Million Trees program works with about 200 partners throughout the state to plant trees along waterways, in cities with low tree canopy, and on abandoned mine land. Half of the freshwater flowing into Chesapeake Bay comes from Pennsylvania.
A Ten Million Trees partner, the Swatara Watershed Association, takes care of Swatara Creek, which starts in Schuylkill County and feeds into the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County.
Bethany Canner, vice president of the Association, said they have planted an estimated 750 trees so far. She noted the addition of more trees to the regional landscape has a positive impact on wildlife.
“Every time we put a development in, every time we put a new road in, we’re taking away habitat,” Canner explained. “The more trees we can get in, it provides a greater habitat that some of these species that need greater chunks of woods to survive, you know, it helps them to be able to survive.”
Project partners planted over 1 million trees so far this year and hope to plant 800,000 more this spring.