Students at colleges and universities are increasingly excited about conservation and giving back to their campuses and communities. With support from a major automaker, the Tree Campus USA program is providing resources and recognition to colleges and universities that make effective urban forest management a priority.
In Central America, mass production of coffee beans under direct sunlight has resulted in enormous environmental damage. But support from a major hospitality chain has resulted in increased opportunities to sell shade-grown coffee, providing protection for rain forests and economic opportunity for the region.
And communities across north Alabama lost neighborhood trees as a result of devastating tornadoes during April 2011. With support from local and global corporate sponsors, the Alabama Tree Recovery Campaign launched a multi-year, large-scale effort to replant lost trees and restore communities to pre-tornado strength.
The need for replanting extends to state and national forests throughout the country, many of which have been devastated by insects, disease and wildfire, as evidenced by the continuing fire raging in Colorado. With the support of a large family-owned rental car company, the 50-Million-Tree-Pledge was launched to replant in high-need areas like these over the next 50 years.
These are just a few examples that point to the critical role the private sector can play to achieve conservation-oriented goals, when partnering with a non-profit as part of a broader sustainability program.
Forestland and community trees need our protection from many threats. The strains on forests are exacerbated by climate change, with increasing fire damage and insects – once kept in check by the cold – now surviving warmer winters. Replanting on a large scale is necessary just to keep up with these threats, in addition to planting that’s necessary to improve quality of life for future generations.
Corporations can further their environmental missions, and generate good PR, by forming strong and lasting conservation-oriented partnerships.
First, a sustained commitment is critical. Many corporate partners commit to initiatives as part of a broader philanthropic campaign around sustainability that defines the company’s brand. Companies assisting with replanting in national and state forests often pledge to support decades-long efforts as needs arise, rather than a one-time project that may result in less of a lasting impact. Partners that assist with disaster recovery have similarly made multi-year commitments, pledging financial support until communities reach pre-disaster strength.