A Trillion Trees for a Better Tomorrow

February 14, 2020
Weekly Columns

If you’ve ever spent time around me, you’ll know it’s no secret that I love talking about trees. I still remember conversations with my Sunday school teacher, Mr. Culpepper, a WWII veteran and member of the first forestry class at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. He’s the one who ignited my love of forestry, and I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately as I’ve written the Trillion Trees Act. What Mr. Culpepper – or anyone who remembers their eighth-grade biology class – would tell you is that trees are some of the most powerful carbon capture devices we have. Every day, countless billions of plant cells in trees across the world are pulling carbon from the atmosphere, storing that carbon in wood and releasing oxygen back into the air we breathe.

This incredible cycle is why I introduced the Trillion Trees Act. It’s an ambitious goal: plant 1 trillion trees globally by 2050. But it’s entirely doable.

The bill has three parts:

  • Plant more trees in urban areas and on marginal agriculture land domestically while offering technical support and assistance for other countries to maximize forest growth internationally and reverse deforestation.
  • Grow more wood in existing forests and make them more resilient to insects, diseases and catastrophic wildfires.
  • Store more carbon by incentivizing innovative building practices with a sustainable building tax credit.

President Trump already endorsed this idea in the 2020 State of the Union Address, and I believe this is a bipartisan concept that could be signed into law this year. In Arkansas, we have a thriving timber industry, and our state can be a model for the rest of the country on how sustainable forestry works. We’re already seeing the benefits, as Walmart recently announced they’ll be building a new corporate campus completely out of wood products, sourced right here in the Natural State.

This isn’t the bill that does everything, but it’s the bill that does the most. I look forward to training future generations in forest management and showing how trees can be a powerful force for good in our environment.