Gov. Evers Pledges To Plant 75 Million Trees By 2031
Evers issues executive order to conserve 125,000 new acres of forest land.
Evers made the commitment to working with public, private and nonprofit partners to mark Earth Day.
The tree planting initiative is expected to store 28.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next 50 years — that’s the equivalent of what’s produced by six million vehicles each year.
Heather Berklund, the state’s chief forester, said the commitment would involve conserving 125,000 new acres of forest land across Wisconsin. That represents about 17 percent of the roughly 723,000 acres of land that have been set aside for conservation in the last 30 years.
The tree planting effort could include permanent conservation of existing forests, as well as urban tree planting, and restoration and regeneration of degraded forest land.
“It’s a lofty, lofty goal, and again, not just for the state to contribute to this, but it would be any entity that could contribute to that,” said Berklund.
Berklund said no funding has been set aside for the tree planting initiative, but she noted the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program “could help in those contributions to this effort.”
Evers has proposed reauthorizing the land purchase program through $70 million a year in bonding over the next decade — more than double the amount authorized by the state in recent years. Republican lawmakers like Sen. Duey Stroebel, R- Saukville, have questioned how much the state should invest in land conservation, expressing concerns over the amount debt the state owes annually for the program.
Berklund highlighted that trees not only store carbon and filter pollutants; they also provide recreational benefits, prevent stormwater runoff and erosion, and support the state’s $24 billion forest products industry in the state.
“It’s to be a benefit for the long term, and being able to sustain a healthy industry in the state is critical to maintaining just a healthy landscape, and having a continuous supply of products today and into the future,” she said.
Berklund said the agency will begin conducting outreach to coordinate formal pledges with partners to reach the governor’s goal.
Gov. Tony Evers Pledges To Plant 75M Trees By End Of Decade was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.