By Nadine Lymn, ESA director of public affairs
When 5,000 individuals from across the United States and around the globe convene for a scientific conference such as the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) recent meeting in Portland, Oregon it takes an environmental toll: The energy required to power the planes, trains and automobiles people use to travel to and from the meeting (although some attendees bike!). And, the hotels and convention center that were built to provide the facilities needed to host thousands of people ate up habitat and displaced wildlife.
As one way to offset these environmental costs, ESA contributes $5 for each meeting registrant which the Society then donates to a local project or organization in the city in which it meets. This year’s meeting in Portland, Oregon was the Society’s largest and ESA donated $12,475 each to the Columbia Land Trust and to Friends of Trees.
The Columbia Land Trust works to conserve the lands, waters and wildlife of the Columbia River region, from east of the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean. It collaborates with landowners, local residents and government entities to conserve forests, ranch lands and critical habitats in Oregon and Washington states and uses a science-based stewardship program to restore and manage these areas.
The Trust will use ESA’s donation for its Mt. St. Helens conservation project, which aims to protect working forest and habitat on some 20,000 acres at the base of Mt. St. Helens. The area is under development pressure because of its alluring mountain views and scenic waters and is home to threatened species such as bull trout. The acreage includes high elevations that, with global warming, may become increasingly important habitat for some species.
Friends of Trees is a Portland-based organization that describes its mission as bringing people in the Portland-Vancouver and Eugene-Springfield metro areas together to plant and care for city trees and green spaces. The organization also provides guidance to volunteers on restoration techniques and has planted nearly half a million trees and native plants since its founding in 1989.
ESA’s donation will help Friends of Trees offset the Tree Scholarship Program during the 2012-2013 planting season. Each year, Friends of Trees provides scholarships to low-income families who want to plant with the organization, but cannot afford the $35-$50 cost. ESA’s donation will allow Friends of Trees to subsidize the purchase and planting of 275 trees for these families. The organization says the trees will go where they are needed the most and will provide benefits for the community for years to come.
Photos: Neighborhood trees program in action, credit: Friends of Trees; Mt. St. Helens, credit: Washington Dept. of Natural Resources