The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (Alliance) and the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC) have hit a new milestone with their Trees for Sacred Places Project (formerly 10,000 Trees)! Throughout 2014, 36 congregations have planted 1200 native trees, making the total count for the project 1,700 new native trees planted at 40 congregations! Mother and daughter plant their first tree of the day at Holy Communion Lutheran Church. Photo credit: Dave Warren.The project started in 2013, with funding from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, as 10,000 Trees, and allows the Alliance and IPC to provide technical support and educational messaging to all participants about the importance of native trees to the environment and individual religions. In the Fall of 2014 the name of the project was changed to Trees for Sacred Places, as all partners though it more accurately reflected the projects true nature, to plant trees on Sacred Places. Many people have their own interpretation on what those places are, it could be the yard of a Temple or Church, a single tree at the home of a parishioner, or at a religious camp to educate youth on the importance trees have in all aspects of life. The goal of the project has stayed the same despite the new name. This project was created to educate a new group of volunteers while increasing stream buffers and urban tree canopies at Houses of Worship throughout Maryland. Houses of Worship provide a unique community of volunteers that many believe have not yet been engaged in environmental activism. Maryland alone has over 5,000 unique places of worship and over a million worshipers  that can be educated on the importance of caring for the environment at their place of worship and at home. Alliance Staff Member Dan Brellis demonstrates the importance of proper planting technique.The project has seen great success, with many congregations signing up for other Alliance programs like RiverWise Congregations and individual parishioners reaching out to IPC for additional resources to showcase the environment in their religion. Participants have had nothing but praise for the program, including Betsy Singer from Temple Isaiah in Howard County who said of the project: “It helped Temple Isaiah fulfill a Jewish tradition of ‘Tikkun Olam’ or ‘repairing the world.’ The current state of our environment is one of imbalance. This program is a concrete way for congregations to model behavior to their members that can help heal the planet, one tree at a time.”

The Alliance is posed to work with another 30 congregations in 2015, with 23 already committed to participate. By the end of the 2015 the Alliance hopes to hit another milestone, planting 50 acres of trees throughout Maryland, an ambitious but influential goal. Many congregations hear about the project by seeing the changes at their neighboring Houses of Worship. The Alliance anticipates the project will extend for years to come, and hopefully we will see 10,000 trees planted in only a few years.

If your congregation is interested in joining Trees for Sacred Places or you would like more information, please contact Joanna at