Local environmental nonprofit TreePeople and American multinational corporation The Boeing Companypartnered with the help of other sponsors to revitalize burned and at-risk forest areas around California in a new campaign called ‘Forest Aid.’
This new partnership followed the statewide fires in 2017, the most destructive year of California wildfire history, and multiple record-breaking fires this year, according to the TreePeople website.
The campaign will work to replace invasive species, which are more likely to catch fire and burn out of control, with native plants. The initial four-year commitment will primarily serve to revitalize the forested areas around Southern California.
The unique addition to this program is a state-of-the-art sapling nursery called a “clean room,” where native plants will be nurtured. TreePeople hopes this will lead to the growth of stronger native plants and a natural solution to the megafires in the area.
“It is definitely important to prevent fires, even though fires are necessary for a lot of ecosystems,” Environmental Club leader Anja Clark ’19 said. “In places that are so close to home doing as much as we can to prevent them but also to maintain as natural an environment as possible is definitely a good thing.”
The initiative was officially kicked off at the TreePeople headquarters in Studio City on Sept. 7. Representatives from partner organizations and supporters of the cause from across the state came to speak at the kickoff event and help plant the first saplings.
“On behalf of Boeing and the 13,000 employees we have working here in Southern California, I just wanted to say how excited we are to be a part of this movement,” Tamika Lang,a Senior Manager with Boeing Global Engagement, said in a press conference.
The program was established with a $1 million legacy gift from Boeing with the aim of mitigating the effects of years of devastating fires and restoring healthy forests by mobilizing communities, businesses and schools, according to a TreePeople press release. The other partner organizations and supporters present at the launch included Cal Fire, Spectrolabs and State Sen. Bob Hertzberg.
Although TreePeople usually works with neighborhoods, schools and homes for local restoration and environmental goals, this Forest Aid program is not the first push for fire prevention. This summer, TreePeople launched an online fundraiser called “Fight for Forests,” where the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation promised to match the first $275,000 donated.
Though more attention is being made to areas impacted by fires, the primary goals of TreePeople are only being enhanced through new programs, according to Gerald Arreglado, the Director of Marketing and Communications at TreePeople, in an email.
“The only difference is that Forest Aid will help to amplify the current work of TreePeople in mountain forest restoration and care through the generous donation made by Boeing,” said Arreglado.