The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most magical forests and trees, like the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. These forests are absolutely vital for our region and for the survival of many species. But thanks to logging, wildfires, and development, forests and trees are having an incredibly difficult time and have been for years. While planting trees isn’t a universal answer to fighting climate change, the practice is absolutely vital for many areas and can have a big impact on the quality of life, economy, and climate.

There is so much more to forests than simply being a space with “a lot of trees”. These spaces are filled with biodiversity of both flora and fauna species and many healthy forests will have layers of canopy with plants and trees at various stages of life. Even trees that have fallen and are decaying are absolutely vital for forests and provide a habitat for different species and nutrients for the soil. Healthy forests are also incredibly vital for maintaining healthy watersheds and streams/rivers. Trees and other native plants can help with avoiding erosion, filtering sentiment out of water, and keeping solid groundwater levels.

Trees are also important in urban areas and cities, as having trees versus not having trees can result in a fairly substantial temperature difference between neighborhoods and can have impacts on property values and local economies. It is no mistake that neighborhoods with more trees tend to be filled with people who have more resources and various levels of privilege.

What Can I Do?

It can be overwhelming to watch the news and getting stuck in doom-scrolling the news can be both anxiety-producing and lead to pessimistic thoughts (or at least that’s what it feels like to me!). But despite those feelings of ennui, there is still hope and there are so many things we can all do to help! Youth activists in Montana, for example, have recently won a ground-breaking lawsuit over the state’s promotion of fossil fuel development. 


Redwoods Rising is an initiative to restore 70,000 acres of formerly clear-cut forests that was aerials reseeded at a crazy rate. we bring the wildlife back. #naturelover #redwoods #oldgrowth #learnontiktok #plantok #ecofriendly

♬ original sound – Redwoods Rising

Volunteer your skills, time, and/or resources

Not everyone has to do door-to-door campaigning or tie themselves to trees in order to make a difference. All movements need people with a variety of skills and abilities who are willing to do things like public speaking, yard work, transportation, photography, maintenance, tree planting, upcycling, and cooking. Think about the skills, abilities, and time you have and how you’d like to use them to help others (if you want to!) and the environment.

Stay updated and willing to learn.

Even with all the misinformation out there and the temptation to doom-scroll, there are ways to stay updated and engaged. Redwoods Rising, whose Tiktok video you can find above, is a great resource for learning about the Redwoods. Similarly, nonprofits like Re-Sources, have so many incredible resources, like the short documentary below. Local libraries are also great resources for getting books, DVDs, and other resources. Many also participate in platforms like Libby and Kanopy (a streaming service), which means you can borrow audiobooks, e-books, movies, and more on your phone or tablet for free!

Plant trees and native species.

Using the space you have to create native habitats and accessible gardens for insect, plant, and wildlife species is a great way to make a significant change on the local level. In the US alone, there are over 50 million acres of land covered in manicured turf grass lawns that consume 3 trillion gallons of water and 70 million pounds of pesticides to keep. Of course, not everyone with a grass lawn is watering it constantly or using pesticides but the fact remains that all that land and the resources to maintain it are all being used for nothing more than a status symbol and are actively harming the environment. 

More and more people are transitioning away from perfectly landscaped lawns and moving towards home gardens and/or native landscapes. Ron Finley, for example, is an LA-based proponent of urban gardening and is known for his Ted Talk on guerrilla gardening. Sometimes (and more times than you might think), guerilla planting is actually the right and ethical thing to do. Making and dropping seed bombs can be a relatively easy thing to do but there are many ways to be a guerrilla gardener/planter. For decades, one man in Bellingham has been planting “unauthorized” native trees in empty lots, abandoned construction sites, forested areas, and even contaminated lands. Matt Christmas has been doing this work for years because, as he says:

“The environment needs some help right now; how can we get smarter about that? … As I got older, I realized, ‘Wow, we’re kind of shortchanging ourselves on what’s necessary for continued human existence,’ and I thought, ‘Hey, I can help by getting some trees back in the ground.’”

Keep in mind that not every environment or space needs lots and lots of trees. There are so many habitats like shrub-steppe, sagelands, prairies, and deserts that need native flora species like native grasses, shrubs, and forbs. Native wildflowers are also incredibly important, as seen in places like Washington’s Yellow Island. Having a range of different plant species can be so important for biodiversity and can also help sequester carbon and provide habitat/cover for wildlife.

Get involved!

Some organizations to get involved with and/or support include:


Rally to Protect Mature Forests, Tuesday, August 22nd, 5:30-7:00pm at Maritime Heritage Park amphitheater (500 W Holly St, Bellingham, WA)

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