Boeing and TreePeople bring communities together to
break the inferno cycle and restore healthy, native forests
California is experiencing the deadly impacts of climate change. A year-round fire season with ever-more-intense wildfires—and the scars they leave behind—make it clear that the “new normal” is perilous.
TreePeople’s mission is based on the belief that “trees need people and people need trees.”
Unfortunately, the trees are at risk. Forests throughout the world are in peril due to wildfires, droughts, disease and extreme heat. Wildfires have devastated communities and destroyed 10 million acres of forests in the U.S. in 2017 alone.
Thanks to a $1 million legacy gift from The Boeing Company, TreePeople is partnering to launch Forest Aid, an ambitious campaign to heal our forests:
Unite people to make a real difference and make our forest more resilient
Replant and care for trees, restore nature and protect wildlife corridors with best management practices and a science-driven approach
Increase fire resilience awareness and education among people living in high fire-risk neighborhoods
Implement solutions that work with nature to improve resilience to fires, droughts, pests, and extreme heat
Serve as a global model for forest restoration, community action, and environmental engagement!
“Trees need people and people need trees,” chanted 50 elementary students, making branch shapes with their arms. The students, on field trips to Coldwater Canyon Park, had stopped by to cheer at the Forest Aid kick-off celebration on Friday, September 7.
Boeing and TreePeople officially launched the campaign, with help Cal Fire, LA Conservation Corps, Junior Rangers, Spectrolabs, State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, and students from Sylmar, Van Nuys, and Inglewood.
The ceremony featured the campaign’s first tree planting, next to a popular hiking trail in Coldwater Canyon Park. TreePeople founder and president Andy Lipkis christened the baby “Spec” in honor of Spectrolab, a tech company who helped in the launch. Spectrolab President Tony Mueller spoke about evacuating their business – and 18 employees’ homes – during December’s Creek Fire, which came within a few hundred feet of their facility.
“We are committed to this community. We have been here 62 years, and we’re here for the long haul. And we’re proud to partner with TreePeople for this important campaign,” said Mueller.
Everyone took turns with the shovel and buckets, then joined hands around a happy Spec, the first plant of the campaign. With that, Forest Aid is underway!
Tamika Lang, Boeing
Tony Mueller, Spectrolab
California’s Climate Crisis: The Year-Round Inferno Cycle
2017 was the most destructive year in California wildfire history, and 2018 has seen record-setting fires already. We know there will be an increase in risk due to climate-driven wildfires in the coming decades.
It’s a cruel truth that the areas burning right now are likely to be among the most dangerous again. Immediately after these extra intense fires burn everything down to the soil, they’re unstable and dangerous, as we saw with the deadly mudslides near Santa Barbara, California. And in a few years they will be among the most fire-prone, as invasive species grow in the fires’ wake and then become dry tinder and flash fuels.
To break this cycle, we need to turn our attention to fighting the next forest fires before they start, by restoring healthier and more resilient forests, less prone to burn dangerously out of control. The urgency is particularly great in the urban-wildland interface area.
We need to act fast to restore forests in the right manner, so people can better protect themselves and the environment from the out-of-control inferno cycle. A properly-managed forest has a higher likelihood of avoiding decimation when fires do come. Soil remains healthy, native trees survive, and the ecosystem achieves balance.
How do we get there? That’s where Forest Aid – and you – come in...
TreePeople’s “deep restoration” of mountain forests involves:
Clearing of Invasive Species – Invasive plants often outgrow natives, especially in disrupted areas, like those stripped by intense fires. Many of the most aggressive species aren’t prepared for California’s hot, dry seasons, and after growing abundantly in wet months, they die and dry out...leaving flash fuels and other flammable remains prone to burn and intensify future wildfires.
Localized Seed Collection – We harvest seeds from as close to the restoration sites as possible. This ensures that the plants will be adapted for the specific environment, while also preserving biodiversity as much as possible.
Seed Propagation – Once collected, seeds are prepared and planted in our nursery. TreePeople is developing a new state-of-the-art nursery, which will be pathogen free.
Planting – We then use the healthy saplings raised in TreePeople’s nursery to plant in the restoration area. Native trees as well as other plants are important to establish a healthy foundation for the revived forest.
Plant Care – Planting isn’t the end of involvement: we return with volunteer teams to water, weed around saplings, and ensure that new plants mature enough so that they can propagate the next generation.
Benefits of forest restoration:
Fire Resilience – Native plants have evolved for the specific climate of the area. They can handle the seasons and drought cycle, and when fires happen they can be milder and actually restorative for the ecosystem – unlike the intense and destructive wildfires that we see around the state currently.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction – Healthy forests pull carbon and pollutants out of the atmosphere and store them, helping to slow climate change. Much of the work happens below ground: as root systems develop and soil health improves from the scarring of fire, microbes help create a “carbon sponge” under the surface.
Ecosystem Health – Native species survive, preserving biodiversity and providing habitat for wildlife. Local fauna benefit from increased food, shelter, safe passageways, and mating opportunities.
Water Management and Watershed Health – Forest restoration isn’t just plants: we pay attention to the landscape, working to make sure water can be slowed and absorbed into the soil and nourish plants – as it would have in healthy, native forests. The forest then helps cool the region through evapotranspiration and evaporation. As water slows and permeates the ground, it can help restore aquifers and waterways, providing stable water supplies for humans as well as the forest ecosystem.