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Northern Virginia Celebrates Trees!

Who doesn’t love trees? September 2021 marks the start of Plant NOVA Trees, a five year campaign to promote the planting and preservation of native trees and shrubs in Northern Virginia. To launch the campaign, numerous organizations are inviting the public to fun and educational events to celebrate the beauty and value of native trees. These celebrations will remind everyone how much they love trees and how important it is to protect them. The Plant NOVA Trees calendar has events throughout the region from September to November and beyond.

Why a native tree campaign now? As temperatures rise and rainstorms become more intense but less frequent, trees that cool the environment and capture stormwater become increasingly important. Trees take time to grow, so it is essential that we take action ASAP!

The dozens of organizations that have been collaborating on the Plant NOVA Natives campaign to promote native plants have been joined by tree advocates from across the region to organize Plant NOVA Trees. Why native trees in particular? Only plants that evolved within a local area are able to participate meaningfully in the intricate plant/animal/fungal interactions that make up its ecosystem. In other words, if we want to see songbirds and butterflies, we need to choose native trees and shrubs. (There is no important distinction between a tree and a shrub, other than size.)

We need everyone to help. The greatest need for trees and tree care is on privately owned property. The budgets of our local governments are unable to cover the costs even on public land. It will be up to each of us to look around our places of residence, employment, education, recreation and worship to identify where more trees are needed and where the existing ones are under threat. The Plant NOVA Trees website will provide a clearinghouse to link people to the resources needed to act, whether that be educational materials or sources of plants, services and discounts.

This isn’t rocket science. Putting a tree in the ground is simple, especially when they are small. There are over fifty native tree species in Northern Virginia, most of which will grow easily in almost any yard. Local garden centers are well stocked– 21 of them have invited volunteers to put special tags on the native trees – in addition to the garden centers that specialize in native plants and carry smaller, easier-to-plant specimens. Let us get a shade tree up in every spare space before the temperatures go even higher. Every native tree planted brings hope for the future. Every native tree preserved gives us life today.

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