POWERPLANTSC tree planting event to aid in far reaching effort

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Trees are a critically important, life-sustaining component of our global environment. Trees provide oxygen. They absorb carbon. They stabilize the soil. They provide nesting for birds and animals, as well as fruit and other nourishment for all. And they have historically provided humankind with energy, physical protection, shelter, and unmatched aesthetic beauty. Trees are also one of the greatest natural defenses against the ever-increasing threat of disastrous floodwater events, which is perhaps the chief reason POWERPLANTSC will plant 3.2-million tree seeds across the Palmetto State on Earth Day, Apr. 22.

“Trees, vegetation and soils are components of pervious surface cover that help absorb
stormwater and reduce the harmful effects of flooding, erosion and runoff,” says Douglas E. Wood, director of communications with the South Carolina Forestry Commission, which is a partnering agency of POWERPLANTSC. “Expanding tree cover through this project – and especially through successive, ongoing satellite/spin-off events and initiatives – will allow for offsetting of stormwater naturally and aid in infiltration.”

According to Wood, “Trees are able to help offset stormwater by holding water in the canopy, helping water get into the ground through their roots, and releasing water into the air through evapotranspiration. As these trees grow through the years, their environmental benefits only increase, including the aesthetic beauty, shade and cooling effect they provide, improved air quality and innumerable positive impacts on health and well-being, adding to quality of life.”

Wood says that over the next 50 to 80 years, the newly planted trees will serve to intercept and mitigate thousands to perhaps millions of gallons of stormwater for the communities in which they are planted.

“As they continue to grow larger over time, their capacity and effectiveness for storm water uptake and management will only grow,” he adds.

That’s not all.

“Trees provide more attractive areas for development, but they also provide clean air. They lower the temperature, and they provide for good mental health. They create spaces for exercise and they even contribute to less crime,” says Wood. “Additionally, trees, vegetation and soils are components of pervious surface-cover that help absorb stormwater and reduce the harmful effects of runoff.”

S.C. Floodwater Commission Chairman Tom Mullikin, who conceived and is now directing the POWERPLANTSC project, agrees.

“Though difficult if not impossible to exactly measure in terms of long-term impact, wherein we would also have to factor-in future storms and otherwise rising sea levels, there is no question but that trees are one of our greatest natural defenses against disastrous flooding,” said Mullikin from his exploratory camp atop Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador, last week. “Beyond that, our tree planting effort next month will be the largest single-day tree planting event in American history.”

And thus a new North American record according to POWERPLANTSC officials. But it all comes back to protecting, bettering, and educating.

Following a POWERPLANTSC meeting in early Jan., S.C. Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette said: “We are not only planting and growing trees, but this is about growing our economy and growing our state. And through this [POWERPLANTSC project] we are now educating our children as to how important our environment is.”

POWERPLANTSC partners and participants will be planting loblolly pine-tree seeds, each in packs of 60 seeds and donated by the S.C. Forestry Commission, which have been stored by the S.C. Dept. of Corrections and are being distributed to staging areas over the next few weeks.

Photo– Mullikin in red jacket is pictured here with members of his global expedition team atop Mt. Chimborazo, Ecuador, Mar. 1.



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