If you’re a regular 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 provide almost endless benefits to humans and our communities, wildlife, and everything in between. They clean the air we breathe, provide an escape from everyday life, and 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 areas of land adjacent to a stream containing native trees and shrubs.

The Benefits of Planting Trees in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed:

  • Filter nutrients and sediment 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

Over the years, the Alliance’s forests team has grown into a streamlined tree-planting machine, planting thousands of trees each year. We do this through careful planning in advance of the season and with the help of hundreds of dedicated volunteers and contractors! This season, however, our volunteers alone helped us reach our seasonal goal of planting 10,000 trees!

Volunteers Making the Difference

This season, over 650 passionate volunteers joined us to plant 10,011 trees across the watershed! That’s more than 27 football fields, and a significant portion of these trees was planted at our first-ever 24-hour Volunteer Tree Planting Relay (Treelay). Keep an eye out for the next one!

The Season’s Not Over!

In addition to help from volunteers this season, planting will continue with assistance from contractors, and by the end of 2022, the Alliance plans to have 19,060 more trees planted on an additional 70.5 acres. This work could not be accomplished without funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, US Forest Service, Maryland DNR’s Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, Congressman John Sarbanes, and conservation partners.

Tallying Up Our Efforts

The Alliance is slated to get a total of 29,071 trees planted across 106.5 acres throughout the watershed since the beginning of our fall planting season. We did this all with the help of our wonderful volunteers and dedicated contractors, all for our forests, for our streams, and for our future.

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!


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.