“We need to do something bigger than ourselves.”
– Mohamed, Friends of Trees volunteer since 2014
Mohamed and his wife Farah, and their children and friends, have planted hundreds of trees with us in memory of their daughter, Ayan. Farah very candidly shares why, “Every tree that we plant I feel like it’s for her. And I think about all of the benefits that all these trees will produce … it keeps on giving. It’s a way of sharing her with the world.”
This beautiful video shares the story about why Mohamed, Farah, and their family plant trees together in honor of Ayan:
“When you are outdoors and in nature you tend to forget whatever problems you may have. When you go into nature with others and look at the beauty, how big things are … it has that healing process.” -Mohamed
The more than 50,000 trees and shrubs we plant every year with so many community volunteers transform neighborhoods and natural areas. Trees clean our air and water, cool the planet, provide habitat—and can help us feel better. There are many examples of how trees improve our health; just the act of planting a tree can be personally transformative; digging in the dirt with the hope and intent of something taking root just feels good.
It’s about trees and it’s about community. When we come together to plant trees we are doing something good, we’re making a difference and we’re making our world a better, more welcoming place.
There is so much we can do that is bigger than ourselves. Donating to Friends of Trees’ programs that plant trees and grow community will help our planet and its inhabitants for generations to come. As Mohamed also shared, “Planting trees really will outlive us. The effort that you put is so small, the benefit is just gigantic.”
Thank you for the gigantic act of supporting trees + community. We look forward to planting trees with you!
Congratulations, you helped plant 50,000 trees and native shrubs last season! Now what? Good thing Friends of Trees isn’t just a tree planting organization–tree care is also on the list because we want the trees we plant to survive and grow and thrive.
It works.The survival rate for urban trees planted the Friends of Trees way, together, with guided post-planting care from our Tree Team, is 97% (based on Portland street trees planted last season). For the subset of trees we’ve been monitoring for nine years since planting it’s an 88% survival rate.
Our trees planted in natural areas also have strong survival rates, especially given some very challenging conditions; for example, some planting sites are not accessible for watering; some plants get eaten by wildlife; humans sometimes trample or vandalize; etc. Some studies indicate that an acceptable minimum survival rate for riparian area restoration plantings is 50%, so our survival rates of 81% in year one and 70% after three years are particularly impressive.
How do we help trees thrive?
We water. We prune. We mulch. We visit and assess. We do this for the street and yard trees planted through our Neighborhood Trees program as well as for the native trees and shrubs planted in our Green Space program.
As part of our Neighborhood Trees post-planting care, we:
- continually share information with tree-recipients about how much water, mulch and pruning trees need;
- deliver and apply free mulch soon after trees are planted;
- offer a summer watering service for a reasonable fee;
- have a Summer Inspector program where trained volunteers visit all newly planted trees twice in the first summer after planting to inspect for tree health, leaving tree care info for the tree recipient.
- have a longer term monitoring program where we visit subsets of trees planted anywhere from two to 10 years ago, to track health and growth;
- prune trees throughout the year (except for a few weeks in the spring and fall when trees are budding or dropping leaves). We rotate neighborhoods each year and focus most of our work on low income, low canopy and/or historically under-served communities.
Did we mention we prune? Last season we pruned more than 1,600 street trees, which is vital toward proper growth and really helps them survive wind, snow, and ice storms.
Our Green Space program also cares for the new trees and shrubs planted in natural areas, and we do this for up to 10 years after planting. The team is often joined by employee volunteer groups who help with summer maintenance tasks such as watering, mulching, and weeding (also called “day-lighting” since we’re clearing space around new plantings to provide for more light and air, and to reduce competition with weeds). We also assess for survival and replant when necessary.
Volunteers help with this! We train volunteers to inspect and prune trees, and volunteers are crucial to effectively mulching thousands of new trees at tree care events.
All told, we care for and monitor more than 54,000 trees a year!
We’re spreading the good word about trees.
We spend much of the summer spreading the word. Our Volunteer & Outreach Team, aided by dedicated Tree Team Ambassadors, attend events, festivals and fairs; plus, we have a crew of Canvassers who go door to door in priority neighborhoods. We strive to reach historically under-served, low-canopy neighborhoods with information about how to volunteer with us and how to get a tree from us. Interested in being a part of this? We’d love for you to join us.
At Friends of Trees, we are committed to doing everything we can to help our community gain access to the benefits of trees. We are also committed to making our green workforce accessible to all groups of people through the Adult Urban Forestry Training & Internship Program.
As first shared in our November 2018 edition of Treemail, the UF Training Program, funded by the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, is a 12 week paid training program focusing on urban forestry and restoration topics. Program participants were selected by local Community Benefit Organizations (APANO, POIC, Verde, and Wisdom of the Elders) that are also Friends of Trees partners. Program participants attended weekly training sessions focusing on landscape design, tree identification, tree maintenance, ecological site design, environmental justice, and careers in urban forestry.
We are now in the first full year of the UF Training Program. The 10-week training program was completed in the fall, followed by the coordination of internships at host sites for program participants. The goal of the entire program is to help people who are interested in the urban forestry and restoration fields gain meaningful work experience and exposure to the field so they can pursue higher education opportunities and higher-level jobs.
We are almost complete with the internship portion of the program, with interns working at varying sites in Portland, Beaverton, and Vancouver, including Honl Tree Care, Portland Parks and Recreation, Verde, and Friends of Trees. Two of our interns, Bruce and David, have been interning with the City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry program; their internship supervisor, Jessica George, Education and Outreach Coordinator for Vancouver’s UF Program, shares how valuable Bruce and David were to the Urban Forestry team this winter and spring:
“We truly enjoyed hosting two spectacular interns through Friends of Trees,” shares Jessica. “David and Bruce were dedicated to getting the job done–and done to an impeccable standard. David and Bruce supported winter planting projects, pruning and mulching young trees in parks and along streets, and they installed plaques on the new Heritage Trees. Along the way they interacted with other City staff, community members, and dedicated volunteers, while representing Wisdom of the Elders, Friends of Trees, and the City of Vancouver seamlessly. We appreciate their work ethic and that they were open and willing to learn and support Urban Forestry.”
The interns also get a lot out of the experience. Many participants had some exposure to the urban forestry field but hadn’t received upper level mentorship or hadn’t been exposed to the different levels of work involved. When asked about their experience working with Vancouver Urban Forestry, both Bruce and David highlighted the community-building aspect of urban forestry and tree planting:
“It was great to work with that spectrum of the field, with the Urban Forestry department specifically. I never realized it was more than just trees and plants, but it’s also people. The bond that the City builds with residents is really awesome.” –Bruce, UF Intern
David echoed the same sentiments when describing his experience, “My experience was really great. The thing I liked about it was the work we did with the community at planting events. Vancouver UF works with different people and communities and when we plant new trees, it is at community-based events so we can make a bond with the people we work with.”
We are grateful for community members like Bruce and David who are so passionate about making our environment a better place, and for partners like Vancouver Urban Forestry who help make that possible. We look forward to sharing more about this program as is continues and grows, stay tuned!
Picture above, in front, UF Program Intern David at a recent Vancouver planting event with happy tree recipients.
A giant thank you to everyone who donated to trees + community during our year-end campaign!
Your support is absolutely crucial in order for us to engage so many volunteers and plant so many trees in so many places. Ever wonder how we use your donation? Please join Garry Oak in exploring how your donation makes a difference.
Happy New Year!
“Each Friends of Trees planting event is a series of moments, whether it’s somebody seeing a lizard, or a kid planting their first tree, or people who just happened to be walking by pitching in to help. One of the best moments is at the end of the day when everyone has a big smile on their face because they’ve really accomplished something: they planted trees.” Matt, Friends of Trees volunteer
Did you know that the oldest tree in the world is 5,062 years old? It’s a Pinus longaeva (Great Basin bristlecone pine) and it’s in California.
While we can’t claim with certainty that Friends of Trees just planted the newest tree in the world, it is possible, at least for a moment on any given Saturday, October-April, that we did indeed just plant the newest tree in the world. That’s another Friends of Trees moment: adding a tree–to our region, to our planet. And there are more than 50,000 moments like that every tree planting season.
As we celebrate the Winter Solstice and welcome the return of the sun we’re thinking about the various ways the shortest day of the year is celebrated, especially, of course, the celebrations that include trees. We’ve learned that some Winter Solstice celebrations include specific trees that have specific meanings; for instance, for some observants evergreens symbolize continuity of life, and oak trees symbolize endurance, strength, protection, and good luck.
We love this. Here’s how Friends of Trees interprets these special meanings of evergreens and oaks:
Continuity of life: trees provide oxygen!
Endurance, strength: trees can live to be hundreds, thousands of years old.
Protection: trees clean our air and water and help make us healthy.
Good luck: to me, it’s clear: the more trees we have, the luckier we are.
A recent paper by U.S. Forest Service scientists* reported that metropolitan areas in the U.S. are losing more than 30 million trees each year. This is tragic, but thanks to Friends of Trees’ friends and supporters, we’re not fretting, we’re taking action and tackling this loss, together, one moment at a time, one tree at a time – at more than 50,000 moments, and 50,000 trees, every year. You can help us take positive action through making a donation to Friends of Trees today! Your support helps grow our urban canopy, restore sensitive natural areas, and helps build community through planting trees – together.
Happy Solstice to you and yours, we look forward to longer days, the return of the sun, and more trees – join us!