April 22, 2016
Arbor Day - 2016
I was looking for something new to talk about regarding Arbor Day this year. So many times we focus on the usual talking points about Arbor Day...
• The “founder” of Arbor Day is J. Sterling Morton and it had it’s beginnings in Nebraska.
• The first Arbor Day in Nebraska was observed in 1872 and it became a state holiday in 1885.
• Arbor Day is observed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and at least 40 other countries.
• Arbor Day is observed on different dates to correspond with the best times time of year to plant trees in that state, ranging from the third Friday in January in Florida and Louisiana to the first Friday in December in South Carolina.
I find all of those interesting, but there are only so many ways you can talk about these before it becomes somewhat boring, at least for me. Since this is an international holiday, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the international traditions surrounding Arbor Day or similar celebrations.
• The first Arbor Day in the world was held in Spain in 1805.
• Cambodia celebrates Arbor Day with a tree planting ceremony attended by the king.
• Niger celebrates Arbor Day as part of its national Independence Day. Besides celebrating their independence on this day, Nigeriens also plant trees to aid in the fight against desertification.
• In the Philippines, a national proclamation was passed that directed "the active participation of all government agencies, including government-owned and controlled corporations, private sector, schools, civil society groups and the citizenry in tree planting activity."
• South Africa observes a National Arbor Week and each year selects two different trees to promote in plantings, one common tree and one rare tree, to highlight and increase public awareness of indigenous trees.
• New Zealand’s Department of Conservation plans national restoration projects using native plants to restore habitats that have been damaged or destroyed by humans or invasive pests and weeds. These projects are part of a vision to protect and restore the indigenous biodiversity.
• In the Netherlands, over 110,000 Dutch schoolchildren ages and 30,000 adults plant hundreds of thousands of trees and shrubs on their National Tree Day.
• Mongolia observes two National Tree Planting Days, the 2nd Saturdays of May and October.
• A citizen's initiative to plant trees started in the Republic of Macedonia in 2008 in response to catastrophic wildfires. The campaign, Tree Day-Plant Your Future, created an official non-working day and more than 150,000 Macedonians planted 2 million trees in one day (symbolically, one for each citizen). Six million more trees were planted in November the same year, and another 12.5 million trees in 2009. This has been established as a tradition and takes place every year.
• In the British Virgin Islands, annual Arbour Day activities include a national Arbour Day Poetry Competition in addition to tree planting ceremonies throughout the territory.
• The International Day of Treeplanting in Belgium often combines tree planting with awareness campaigns in the fight against cancer.
• A week-long tree planting festival is held each year in India. During this event millions of trees are planted.
This illustrates the importance that is placed on planting trees around the world. There are probably as many different benefits from planting trees as there are tree planting days. For more information on selecting and planting trees for a windbreak, wildlife habitat, an orchard, or your home landscape, contact your local Nebraska Extension office.