Trump Signs Order Creating One Trillion Trees Interagency Council

Vast tree-planting conservation project takes shape with Executive Order
October 15, 2020 Updated: October 15, 2020

President Donald Trump signed an executive order (EO) Oct. 13 to formally establish an interagency council for the One Trillion Trees Initiative. The World Economic Forum‘s ambitious plan aims to unite governments, nongovernmental organizations, individuals, and businesses globally in planting and conserving 1 trillion trees by 2030.

“President Trump has boldly led on many conservation initiatives, including the One Trillion Trees Initiative,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt in a statement. Bernhardt is named in the order as co-chair of the council, along with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

On Earth Day and Arbor Day, April 22, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump planted a maple tree on the South Lawn of the White House. “On this special occasion, we are renewing our strong national commitment on conserving the wonder of God’s creation,” Trump said before the ceremony. “We’re also honoring our country’s heritage of conservation through the One Trillion Tree Initiative.”

“Planting one trillion trees will have a major benefit to our environment, as well as recreational and educational opportunities for many thousands of children and adults alike,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA has a number of actions underway to help plant, protect, and conserve trees, which promote healthy watersheds and improve air quality.”

One Trillion Trees

Perdue said the One Trillion Tree EO signed by the president demonstrates the Trump administration’s commitment and leadership to ensure that American forests are healthy and productive such that they will continue to meet the needs of citizens and communities both today and in the future.

“When I was growing up on my family farm, my father always taught me to appreciate that when it comes to the land, we want to leave it better than we found it,” Perdue said. “The President’s Executive Order will do just that—leave it better than we found it and help bolster the 193 million acres of National Forest System lands to promote recreation, enjoyment, and sustainable economic prosperity across broad sectors of the rural economy.”

According to the Department of the Interior, the EO directs the council to develop, coordinate, and promote the federal government’s interactions with the One Trillion Trees Initiative. The project will promote tree-planting, conservation, and restoration across the United States and around the world.

In addition to the two co-chairs, the EO names 21 other members of the council, from a broad range of government departments and agencies, who are given the task of developing and implementing a strategy for planting and conservation.

The council will work alongside and coordinate tribal, state, and local officials to grow, protect, and manage federal forests and woodlands, and the council will remain active through Dec. 31, 2030.

Progress

According to the Department of the Interior, it was involved in planting more than 58 million trees on federal lands across the country between 2017 and 2019. This figure includes more than 17 million trees planted in the field of mine remediation by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Furthermore, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all plant trees to help rehabilitate forest lands after wildfires, to restore habitats, and to help conserve tribal lands.

The Department of the Interior says it expects to plant an additional 22 million trees by the end of this year.

According to the EPA, forests across the United States sequester more than 14 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions each year. In addition, millions of Americans rely on forested watersheds to capture and filter their drinking water.