What is Trees for Life?

What we are proposing: to plant and nurture 100,000 new native tree species in Indian River County in the next 10 to 15 years.

To get started, we are proposing a pilot project for the next two years – plant and nurture 5,000 trees – in Vero Beach, Sebastian, Fellsmere and in the county.

Who?PIAS and ELC, along with many – 22 at last count — partner organizations. These include the school district,  extension service, state/county health department, five landscaping/nursery businesses, civic groups such as the Lions Club.

Why plant trees:we have drastically changed the landscape in our county in the last 50 years as our population has grown from 7,000 or so to 150,000 people. Trees belong in our landscape – native trees like live oaks. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Without trees and all green plants humans and other animals would not be on this earth.

Where will we plant them?Trees will be free to any resident who asks for one, but with some conditions – they agree to learn how to take care of their tree, they agree to let us put it on a map so we can follow up, visit.

Where will the trees come from?ELC and PIAS have built greenhouses and at the schools we will erect shade houses. Right now we have 3,000 live oak seedlings and more coming every day as people find out about the project and offer their acorns.

Also to be planted:150 fruit trees in some of our poorer neighborhoods, the fruit to help improve family diets. For this we thank the health department who can identify the families who agree to the help.

Keeping track:we will map the exact location of each tree using GPS and GIS technology. We will also use GIS mapping to find the soils and drainage most suitable for each tree species.

Who will do this work?Our goal is to ask our combined 600 volunteers/membership, all from our partner organizations. With our partners we will be offering focus groups and tree horticulture educational workshops to community members.

Schools and students will be a big part in this.  ELC staff will design the STEAM curriculum, develop the assessment tools and analyze the numbers, as well as train teachers and volunteers to care for the trees along with student scientists. ELC will contribute staff time, volunteer hours, and greenhouses. PIAS will contribute our greenhouses and nursery, volunteers and education talent.

Both ELC and PIAS have run education programsfor adults and children for many years. We have experience in conservation education programs and projects.

Vero, Sebastian and Fellsmere are already designated as Tree Cities by the Arbor Day Foundation. We want to build on this relationship.

So what about the cost, who is paying for this?  Just for the pilot program, we are funding raising for $100,000. Over the long term it could cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have landed some substantial contributions, and of course we can always use more. Each tree will be free to the residents, the family, the school, but it does cost us money, especially for purchasing the fruit trees. But getting free acorns by the thousand is a good start. Keep the acorns coming.If you want to be a part of this, email: PIAudubon@yahoo.com or call our office 772-567-3520