This summer, a nonprofit group is launching what it calls the ‘Re-wild Vermont’ project with the goal of planting 100,000 trees across the Green Mountain State by 2022.
350VT organizes, educates, and supports people who support climate justice. ‘Re-wild Vermont’ aims to reduce carbon through food justice, climate action and ecological restoration.
“We’re really trying to emphasize that people plant nut and fruit trees in communities where there isn’t a lot of access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” says 350VT Co-Director, Jaiel Pulskamp. They encourage planting trees in public spaces like parks, school campuses and town grounds.
The Green Mountain State is known for having lots of trees, and for some people, that makes it hard to get behind an initiative like this. But as 350VT Organizer Chris Gish tells me, it’s gotten less green over the years.
“Well we’re lucky to live in a really green corner of the world, but the reality is, and there’s a report coming out from the Vermont Natural Resources Council, that Vermont in the last decade has been losing like over 14,000 acres of forest a year.”
So aside from creating a source of food security, they are also looking to repair damages made during development. Pulskamp says they “Also are focusing on areas where there’s maybe been a lot of deforestation, or along riparian buffers, to create riparian buffers along streams and also to connect forest blocks.”
Restoring riparian buffers along lakes, streams and other waterways will lessen the amount of pollutants running off into the water, allowing fewer harmful algae blooms to develop in lakes and riverbeds.
“Vermont does have some ecological challenges with phosphorous runoff like nutrification of the lakes, kind of too much nutrients and erosion,” says Gish. “And so planting especially in riparian zones, places that are getting eroded, steep slopes, is really important for that.”
Their work can also help ease flooding problems.