American Forests

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American Forests is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization, established in 1875, and dedicated to protecting and restoring healthy forest ecosystems. The current headquarters are in Washington, D.C.


The mission of American Forests is to "protect and restore forests, helping to preserve the health of our planet for the benefit of its inhabitants." [1] American Forests' activities comprise five separate program areas: Global ReLeaf forest restoration, Urban Forests, Endangered Western Forests, Big Trees and Public Policy.

  • The Global ReLeaf program plants millions of trees each year in large-scale forest restoration projects, expanding critical wildlife habitat, cleaning our air and water, and removing millions of tons of pollution and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Every year, Global ReLeaf partners with local individuals, organizations, agencies and corporations to plant trees to improve the health of the planet and support forest stewards across the country and around the world. The program launched in 1988. Since then, nearly 50 million trees have been planted in all 50 states and 44 countries around the world. No other national non-profit has planted more trees in the US than American Forests.
  • The Urban Forests program raises awareness about the tremendous environmental, social and economic benefits of urban and community trees and greenspaces, and spotlights successful urban forestry programs and best practices across the nation.
  • The Endangered Western Forests initiative partners with federal agencies, local communities and other non-profits to protect and restore forest ecosystems in the West being devastated by disease, insects, climate change and more. The initial phase of the initiative is focused on research, restoration, education and public outreach in the iconic Greater Yellowstone Area.
  • The National Big Tree program enlists hundreds of volunteers from all over the country in locating, protecting and registering the biggest trees, while educating the public about the myriad benefits of mature trees and forests. It is active in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and has been used as a model for many state big tree programs and several international ones, in places such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Mexico. More than 750 U.S. champions are crowned each year and documented in its biannual publication — the National Register of Big Trees. For more than 70 years, the goal of the National Big Tree Program has remained: to preserve and promote the iconic stature of these living monarchs and to educate people about the key role that these remarkable trees and forests play in sustaining a healthy environment.

The organization also works to advocate for the protection and restoration of rural and urban forests through public policy, and engage members of a community in the management of their natural resources through various community coalitions.[2]

The organization publishes a quarterly magazine, American Forests, formerly called American Forests and Forest Life (1924–1930),[3] American Forestry (1910–1923), Conservation (1908–1909), Forestry and Irrigation (1902–1908), and The Forester (1895–1901).[4] The first three issues of volume one were titled New Jersey Forester.[4]


American Forests was established in September 1875 as the American Forestry Association (AFA) by physician and horticulturist John Aston Warder and a group of like-minded citizens in Chicago. The object of the organization was to collect and disseminate information on forestry and to foster the conservation of the existing forests. In 1882, the AFA was merged into the American Forestry Congress, which organized that year in Cincinnati, Ohio. It became at once nationally influential in promoting the cause of forestry. In 1889 the original name was resumed.[5][6]

During the early years of its existence, the AFA relied on annual reports, occasional bulletins, and the general press for the publication of information about forestry. In 1897 it was incorporated, and it took over from the New Jersey Forestry Association the publication of the periodical The Forester, changing the title later to Forestry and Irrigation, Conservation, and, finally, American Forests. By 1920, the AFA had about 10,000 members, and was very active and influential in educating public sentiment and in shaping forestry legislation.[5][6]

The AFA was long active in the conservation movement, advocating for the creation of forest reserves, for passage of the Weeks Act, and for creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1924, the AFA started what would become a national tradition by donating the first living national Christmas tree to the White House.

In 1940, the AFA began maintaining the National Register of Big Trees, a list of the largest trees of each native and naturalized species in the United States. Candidates for the National Register are nominated by coordinators, big-tree hunters and volunteers across the U.S. in what has become an annual competition between individuals, counties, and even states to hold the most champion trees.[7]

In 1990, the AFA created the Global ReLeaf program, which plants trees to restore forested ecosystems across the U.S. and around the world. Currently more than 40 million trees have been planted through this program.

In 1992, the AFA changed its name to American Forests to better reflect its environmental efforts. What began as an association of professional foresters, now has a membership of individuals who care about trees and forests: environmentalists, recreational enthusiasts and tree lovers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "– About Us". American Forests. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Advocate for Sound Forest Policy". American Forests. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  3. ^ OCLC 1586701
  4. ^ a b Munns, E. N. (1940). A selected bibliography of North American forestry. Miscellaneous Publication No. 364. 1. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture. p. 19. OCLC 2224426. 
  5. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Forestry Associations". Encyclopedia Americana. 
  6. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Forestry Association, American". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. 
  7. ^ "Big Trees". American Forests. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 

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