Afforestation in Southeast Texas, United States
The piecemeal fashion of land cover change is in large part due to individual property holders owning 64 percent of all forest cover in eastern Texas (Texas Forest Service 2009).
One project, the "Texas Re-forestation Project Pool," is being orchestrated through 129 individual landowners, contributing a total of 5,420 hectares to be reforested (ClearSky 2008).
Through various efforts to reforest and maintain existing tree cover, the Houston area as of 2006 has an urban forest covering nearly1.3 million hectares (EPA 2006).
An official report on the 2008 hurricane season noted that at least $100 million USD are needed to reforest and restore ecosystems damaged by storms like 2008's Hurricane Ike (Eckels and Newby 2008).
For Houston alone, tree cover prevented the need to spend $1.33 billion in an initial one-time building cost for otherwise destroyed buildings (EPA 2006).
Private organizations have played an important role in reforestation; for example the organization Trees for Houston has worked with commercial partners and volunteers to plant over 40,000 trees in Southeast Texas during the 2008-2009 time period (Trees for Houston 2009).
Local companies have also been involved in reforestation, as with Devon Energy donating $65,000 USD to replace 230 trees downed by Hurricane Ike (Johnson 2009).
Much of the reforestation has come from a desire to reap the economic benefits from wood products by replenishing areas which have had significant forest loss due to harvesting (Texas Forest Service 2009).
As landowners age with their children moving away, reforestation becomes an activity which is seen as less labor intensive and more economically viable than other land uses, such as cattle ranching (Texas Forest Service 2009).
The government as well as community groups have seen a need to replenish forest stocks that have been damaged by hurricanes and other extreme weather events (Eckels and Newby 2008).
The Texas state government sees reforestation as a way to repair damaged habitats and encourage larger wildlife populations (Eckels and Newby 2008).
Concerns over storm surge also factor in, as forestry has been recognized by the government as a way to minimize future damage and destruction from weather events (Eckels and Newby 2008).
Regrown forests, especially on rangelands, are seen by some environmentally-inclined entrepreneurs as a viable way to sequester carbon, and in turn receive the monetary benefits from any eventual carbon trading regime (ClearSky 2008).
Reforestation provides an avenue to improve environmental quality by filtering pollutants (EPA 2006).
Another driver for reforestation comes from concerns over aesthetic value, as tree cover can be more pleasing to the eye than the eyesores which might otherwise dot the landscape (EPA 2006).
Overall, forest cover has significantly increased in the region (EPA 2006).
Areas which have suffered destruction from storm damage have been partially rehabilitated (Texas Forest Service 2009).
There has been some recovery of wildlife populations in those areas which have been reforested (Eckels and Newby 2008).
The overall aesthetic quality of the region has increased (EPA 2006).
Erosion, while still a problem, has been curtailed, as trees in reforested areas help to stabilize soils (Trees for Houston 2009).
As partnerships have developed among local community groups, civic organizations, government entities, and businesses, there has been better integration and cooperation in reforestation projects (Annual Report 2008).
Reforestation has improved water quality, as fertilizer runoff and other pollutants are restricted in their ability to enter the watershed (EPA 2006).
In order to ensure that reforestation persists, participation from community groups and landowners must continue (ClearSky 2008).
The government needs to continue to provide financial incentives so as to ensure continued reforestation (Eckels and Newby 2008).
For continuation and expansion of reforestation projects, new sources of funding need to be tapped into, be they private donations, grants from governmental bodies, bank loans, or the like (EPA 2006).
To further encourage reforestation programs, efforts should be taken to teach the community as a whole the importance, benefits, and services provided by reforested areas (Trees for Houston 2009).
ClearSky Climate Solutions. 2008. "Texas re-forestation project pool." http://www.clearskyclimatesolutions.com/work/projects/texas.html (last accessed 26 October 2009).
Eckels, R., and B. Newby. 2008. Texas rebounds: helping our communities recover from the 2008 hurricane season. Office of the Governor. http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/Texas-Rebounds-report.pdf (last accessed 26 October 2009).
EPA. 2006. "National pollutant discharge elimination system: reforestation programs." http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/menuofbmps/index.cfm?action=factsh... (last accessed 18 November 2009).
Johnson, L. 2009. "Trees for Galveston." http://app1.kuhf.org/houston_public_radio-news-display.php?articles_id=1.... (last accessed 26 October 2009).
Texas Forest Service. 2009. "Forest resource development and sustainable forestry: reforestation." http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/main/article.aspx?id=1169 (last accessed 25 October 2009).
Trees for Houston. 2009. "2008-2009 Season." http://www.treesforhouston.org/projects.html (last accessed 25 October 2009).
Trees for Houston. 2008 "Annual Report 2007-2008." http://www.treesforhouston.org/assets/files/Annual%20Report.pdf (last accessed 25 October 2009).