American Forests

Washington, D.C.

American Forests

An American Forests Global ReLeaf tree planting project to restore the Lake Tahoe area affected by California’s Angora Fire.    Photo: Courtesy of American Forests

BY THE NUMBERS: Nearly 40 million trees planted in the past 21 years
WHO'S IN CHARGE: Scott Steen, 47, former executive ­director of the American Ceramic Society, an organization for cera­mic engineers and scientists
WHAT IT DOES: Forests are the planet’s most effective carbon sinks, so their health has never been more important. Which is why newly appointed CEO Steen is revamping this old-guard conservation organization—founded in 1875 to establish and protect state and national forests—into a force to battle climate change, boost river and habitat quality, and improve recreation areas. With nearly a third of the staff replaced and a new science advisory board ­installed, the group is now largely focused on reforestation projects in ­response to urban need and devastation from wildfires, insect infestations, agricultural clearing, and ­pollution. This year, American Forests introduced 54 new ­projects, ranging from a 27,000-tree planting effort near Oregon’s Klamath River—to prevent erosion into tribal fisheries owned by the Yurok, Karuk, and Hoopa people—to a project in Cameroon that involves planting 50,000 trees.
EXTRA CREDIT: In the face of climate change and clean-water shortages, forest health has never been more important. American Forests has earned a top rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy.
LOOKING AHEAD: Whitebark pines are known as a keystone species with an outsize ability to enhance ecosystem diversity; they’re also nearly extinct in some parts of the Rockies. American Forests is working with the Forest Service and a team of researchers to identify and breed disease-resistant trees.

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