Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order on April 22, coinciding with Earth Day, committing to work with public, private and non-governmental partners to conserve 125,000 acres of forest land, while also planting some 75 million new trees by the end of 2030. Through this effort over 28 metric tons of carbon dioxide could be stored over the next 50 years.
“We value our forests for clean water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and wood products,” said Evers. “Wisconsin’s 17 million acres of forests are also a crucial tool in our fight to slow climate change if they remain as healthy, working forests. Our climate is changing at a pace faster than at any time known in history. Sustainably managing Wisconsin forests will not only generate climate change mitigation benefits, but also contributes $24.4 billion annually to Wisconsin’s economy, supports the health of our citizens and helps maintain the high quality of life that defines our state.”
The Wisconsin Tree Pledge will focus on stewardship of forests, both in rural and urban areas. A press release on the executive order highlights the benefit of planting more trees in urban areas. “Associated benefits of urban tree planting include improved public health, reduced city temperatures (heat islands), stormwater reduction, reduced heating and cooling costs, improved air quality, increased property values and other social, community, wildlife and economic co-benefits.”
Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be coordinating the implementation of the pledge. DNR’s forestry program began in 1904 when the state’s first chief state forester was hired. It remains committed “to working with partners to manage Wisconsin forests to provide ecological, economic, social and cultural benefits for Wisconsin residents today and in the future.”