By Jamison Hutchins / Stewardship manager, Central Indiana Land Trust
The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference put the spotlight on the importance of global and national action on climate. The world’s leaders set policy that affects us all, for good or ill. But here at the Central Indiana Land Trust, we also have a role to play on climate change. Our local-level actions have an impact far beyond this state.
Last spring, we kicked off our Million Tree Initiative, a plan to get a million – actually, millions – of trees in the ground in Central Indiana.
We started by planting more than 10,000 trees in Johnson County, buffering a 300-acre nature preserve called Glacier’s End. We planted more than 10,000 additional trees throughout Central Indiana in 2021. In 2022, we will plant some 20,000 trees to buffer the old growth forest at Meltzer Woods in Shelby County. And these are just the first of millions to come over the next decades.
It’s a natural climate solution that involves protecting and adding to Indiana’s forested land. Each newly planted oak tree pulls carbon from the atmosphere. That carbon will be locked in for the oak’s lifespan – roughly 400 years. In a protected forest filled with such trees, massive amounts of carbon are captured and contained forever.
Our goal is to plant trees around places like Shrader-Weaver Nature Preserve in Fayette County, Meltzer Woods Nature Preserve in Shelby County, and Calvert & Porter Nature Preserve in Montgomery County – all National Natural Landmarks. Doing so will expand wildlife habitat and help to offset the effects of a changing climate.
At each site, our team seeds pollinator mix along with the trees to help disguise the saplings from deer and provide food for our pollinator friends. Our stewardship crew monitors and maintains each tree planting. In fall, we mow between the rows to knock back the sycamore, tulip and cottonwood starts that pop up. We will do this for the first five years to give the slower-growing oaks and hickories a better chance at survival.
At Glacier’s End alone, as the tree planting matures, about 7,600 linear feet of forest edge will be removed, creating forest interior habitat that is much needed for our native wildlife.
Want to plant trees to offset your holiday travel miles? Make a contribution toward our Million Tree Initiative after inputting your mileage at conservingindiana.org/carbon-calculator. Or just make a donation at our website to help us protect and restore the precious natural lands that remain. Consider it a holiday gift to future you.
Headquartered on the Old Northside, the Central Indiana Land Trust stewards nature preserves throughout the central third of the state. More information: conservingindiana.org.
PHOTO ABOVE: The Land Trust tree-planting effort began with the planting of over 10,000 trees in Johnson County, buffering a 300-acre nature preserve called Glacier’s End.