If you’re a seasoned reader of the Alliance’s blog, you’re probably aware that planting trees is one of the best ways we can improve the health of our local waterways. But, do you know why this is the case?

Trees and forests provide nearly immeasurable benefits to humans, our communities, wildlife, and everything in between. They clean the air that we breathe, they provide an escape from everyday life, and they bring us peace and balance.

Each Spring and Fall, Alliance staff work tirelessly to plant thousands of trees throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The goal is to reforest as much of the watershed as possible for our forests, for our streams, and for our future. Many of these reforestation projects are riparian forest buffers, which are the area of land adjacent to a stream containing native, perennial trees and shrubs.

The benefits of planting trees in the Chesapeake Bay watershed:

  • Filter nutrients, pesticides, and animal waste from runoff before flowing into our waterways
  • Stabilize eroding streambanks
  • Provide shade, shelter, and food for fish, macroinvertebrates, and other aquatic critters
  • Create habitat for terrestrial wildlife and pollinators
  • Protect downstream communities from flood damage
  • Provide space for recreation
  • Diversify landowner income
  • Clean our air 
  • Remove  carbon from the atmosphere
  • In urban settings, trees can reduce the rates of heat-related health issues and death
  • Slow the flow of stormwater, reducing erosion and flooding potential

Over the years, the Alliance’s forests team has grown into a streamlined tree-planting machine, planting thousands of trees each year. How do they do it, you ask? Careful planning is done well in advance of the season and with help from volunteers and contractors, is how!


This season’s totals in Pennsylvania alone:

  • 18,723 trees = 75 acres of land reforested
  • Plantings spanned 29 different sites, 20 of which were planted with volunteers
  • All of our plantings covered 9 counties in Pennsylvania including Adams, Centre, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Schuylkill, Union, and York.

Of these numbers, our volunteers alone have helped us plant 9,592 trees. That’s a little over 50% of the total trees planted this spring. That’s 26.5 football fields! And in Maryland, we planted roughly 80,000 trees (we plan to include our Maryland numbers in our future Forest Plantings Friday posts)! 

In addition, to help from volunteers and contractors, this work could not be accomplished without funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, US Forest Service, PA Department of Environmental Protection, the Chesapeake Forests Fund, and conservation partners.

If this story compels you to take action, please consider donating today to support the Alliance’s reforestation efforts! You can also sign up for The Confluence and Forests for the Bay newsletters to be the first to hear about upcoming volunteer opportunities!

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For more information about the history of buffers and the Alliance, read Riparian Forest Buffers: A Legacy of the Alliance. To hear more reasons why planting trees is crucial to restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed, check out Streamside Forest Buffers Are Important for Water and Wildlife.