When Arbor Day first became a legal holiday in Nebraska, it occurred on April 22, the same day as today’s observance of Earth Day. However, Arbor Day precedes the birth of Earth Day by almost one century, having its roots in the actions of a Nineteenth Century pioneer.
When J. Sterling Morton arrived in the Nebraska Territory from Detroit in 1854, he took it upon itself to express his love of nature as the editor of Nebraska’s largest newspaper, specifically stressing the need for more trees in his new home. His message quickly spread to his audience, and the other pioneers agreed that trees would be useful not only for aesthetic purposes but also for soil sustainability and shade. Morton later became the Secretary of Nebraska, letting the prominence of his message grow even greater.
In 1872, Morton proposed the first Arbor Day for planting trees, which occurred on April 10, 1872. Incentives for taking part included prizes for those who could properly plant the greatest number of trees. As a result, it is estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.
Once Nebraska reached statehood, its governor officially recognized the holiday, and in 1885, it became a legal state holiday on the day of Morton’s birthday, April 22. On April 22, 1885, Morton spoke during a grand parade as each school child was given the goal of planting a single tree. In the years that followed, more and more schools nationwide took part by planting trees.
Ever since then, the observance has continued. In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt gave his Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States. In 1970, Richard Nixon declared the last Friday in April to be Arbor Day.
It is interesting that the admiration for trees predates much of the appreciation for other aspects of the environment. Morton, aside from respecting trees for their beauty, had a clear understanding of ecology and the need for trees to maintain soil. However, he, along with many other early participants in Arbor Day, probably did not fully understand the importance of trees in the Earth and the process by which they produce clean air for us to breathe. Planting trees is now more important than ever due to the current climate situation.
ISO 14064 gives specifications on greenhouse gas quantification, monitoring, and removal. It consists of three parts:
ISO 14064-1:2006 - Greenhouse gases - Part 1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals
ISO 14064-2:2006 - Greenhouse gases - Part 2: Specification with guidance at the project level for quantification, monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions or removal enhancements
ISO 14064-3:2006 - Greenhouse gases - Part 3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions
In the time we now live in, with a great deal of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, one of the greatest players in the carbon cycle can help us. A tree acts as a natural carbon sink, absorbing carbon dioxide from the air to convert it into the sugar, cellulose, and carbohydrates that it needs to grow. This is why, among the many plans for greenhouse gas removal in Annex A of ISO 14064-2, reforestation is continuously mentioned.
Planting a single tree may not put an end to climate change, but it can still remove some of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Because of this, Morton’s message is still incredibly important.
Please remember that this is just the story of Arbor Day in the United States. Most other countries recognize the importance of trees and set aside one day to celebrate the holiday. In fact, the first Arbor Day in the world began in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo in 1594.