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Springtime in the Pacific Northwest is marked by many things. The days get longer, the sun starts to make an appearance, trees start to blossom, and you can start to hear birds again. In fact, I always know spring is right around the corner when I can hear the frogs in a nearby wetland before bed.
Today is both the astrological start of spring and the International Day of Forests, a day dedicated to the importance of forests around the world. Started by the United Nations in 2012, this day is a great way for local, national, and international communities to organize forest-related activities and to advocate for the forests still around. This year’s theme is “Forest Restoration: A Path to Recovery and Well-being”, an especially important topic with the recent wildfires around the world.
There are so many things to do to celebrate both forests and the beginning of spring. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN has a webcast of the opening ceremony for the 2021 International Day of Forests, hosted by Guardian journalist Fiona Harvey. The United States Forest Service also recently identified roughly 1.3 million acres of forest in their preview that are in need of restoration and they’ve partnered with the US chapter of Trillion Trees to help those areas. You can make a pledge on the Trillion Trees website to conserve and grow forests.
Restoration of forests is important because these areas are vital in the fight against climate change and provide a variety of important functions to humans and animals alike. Forests help protect watersheds and prevent soil erosion while also providing a home to billions of animals. Additionally, ‘forest medicine’ is a concept that developed in Japan and highlights the fact that forests and trees have these healing powers, like antimicrobial essential oils (called phytoncides).
Yard Work and Gardening
- Tiny Victory Gardens: Growing Good Food Without A Yard by Acadia Tucker with Emily Castle
There are plenty of ways to celebrate the start of spring! If you have a yard, there are plenty of things to do to get it ready for both spring and a garden (if you want one). Cleaning up things like litter, dog poop, and dead leaves, grass, pinecones, and stalks is a great way to start. Prepare garden beds by weeding and adding in compost and fertilizing before planting.
There are plenty of native flowers and plants you can add to your garden and plenty of vegetables that are great for you and the environment. Bee-friendly gardens are great for the environment and include plants like rosemary, sunflowers, cucumber, lavender, mint, California poppies, and black-eyed Susans. Growing your own food also cuts down on carbon emissions and there are many ways you can grow things if you don’t have a lot of space.
Hiking with your dog(s) is a great way to spend time in forests. If you haven’t taken your dog on a hike before, the best way to start with short, easy hikes with breaks to build endurance and figure out your dog’s limit. It can be tempting to let your dog off-leash but unless you are at an off-leash park, it’s best to keep them close. Having your dog on a leash prevents possible altercations with other dogs or wildlife and allows you to make sure they’re not drinking unsafe water or eating something potentially toxic.
Before going, also make sure to check the weather so it’s not too hot and that the trail allows dogs. Keep up to date on parasite prevention and vaccinations to decrease the chance that they catch fleas, heartworm, or other parasites/diseases. Talk to your vet about regular flea/tick/heartworm prevention in addition to making sure your dog is healthy enough to hike. Young puppies are still growing and shouldn’t go on long hikes, as it’ll affect their growth plates and potentially cause issues later in life. Senior dogs may have been your constant hiking companion but age catches up with all of us and eventually, they won’t be able to hike with you.
Springtime is officially here and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the longer days! In addition to hiking and gardening, helping forest restoration projects is a great way to celebrate the season. What are your favorite spring activities?