Maryland has a BIG goal - to plant 5 million trees by 2031!

 Tree planting with Interfaith Partners for the ChesapeakeThis goal arose in 2021 when the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation resulting in the establishment of the Five Million Trees Initiative. Expanding existing efforts to respond to climate change and restore and conserve Maryland's natural landscape, the program likewise includes efforts to ensure that plantings are equitable and respond to environmental justice concerns, aiming to plant 500,000 trees in underserved urban communities. This program is an important component to Maryland meeting climate goals laid out in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, increasing the state's ability to adapt to climate change. This initiative will also contribute to Maryland's efforts to increase carbon sinks, improve water and air quality, and reduce the urban heat island effect.

As a part of the Five Million Trees Initiative, IPC has partnered with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be able to offer free native plantings to congregations and private landowners in Maryland as a part of our Trees for Sacred Places program. Native trees and deciduous shrubs are available through the Program. The Maryland DNR will even come out to dig the holes and plant the trees for all landowners. Through Trees for Sacred Places, both afforestation and landscape plantings are available.Free tree plantings in Maryland with congregations

An afforestation planting establishes forest or a grove of trees in an area that previously lacked forest cover. Examples of spaces that may be a part of an afforestation planting are:

  • Fallow farm fields
  • Old sports and recreation fields
  • Former industrial sites
  • Former grazing pastures

These plantings are well-suited for large areas, and are appropriate for large-scale plantings. Afforestation trees are planted very young and tree protection is installed around them. After around five years, the trees will have emerged from the tops of the tubes, which at that point need to be removed. 

Through the Trees for Sacred Places program, landscape plantings include trees that are between five-and-fifteen gallons. These trees are planted at a stage where they are much larger than the afforestation trees, and require more maintence than the afforestation trees. While the DNR will mulch and water the trees at the time of planting, congregations and private landowners will be responsible for watering the trees once a week from April to October when there is less than one-inch of rain. For both planting types, the DNR asks that all landowners ensure that planting sites have less than 6-inches of grass at the time of planting, and that planting sites be mowed at least twice a year. You can learn more about the maintence responsibilities for Maryland DNR plantings through the Trees for Sacred Places program here.

So, why might you or your congregation consider planting trees through Trees for Sacred Places? Planting trees for seeds of hope

  • Climate Resilience: By planting trees, you can help Maryland can enhance its resilience to climate change by sequestering carbon, reducing flooding and erosion, and combatting urban heat islands during the dog-days of summer.

  • Water Quality Improvement: Trees play a critical role in protecting water quality by filtering pollutants, reducing runoff, and stabilizing stream banks. Planting them at your home or congregation aids in the effort to improve the overall water quality of the Chesapeake Bay!

  • Wildlife Habitat Restoration: Planting trees creates new habitats for wildlife and helps to restore populations of native species, including birds, mammals, amphibians, and ever-important pollinators! By enhancing biodiversity, you can help Maryland can strengthen its ecosystems and ensure the long-term health of the state's natural heritage.

  • Community Engagement: The Trees for Sacred Places Program and Five Million Trees Initiative provide excellent ways to get involved in environmental conservation and make a positive impact in your community! Congregations and private landowners can set a positive example by planting trees on your properties, inspiring others to do the same. Likewise, planting food forests through this program provides the opportunity to create a space where your community can access healthy, native foods. 

  • Greening and Beautification: Trees are beautiful and can enhance your property! And, no need to worry about raking up the leaves - they're important habitat for native species like fireflies, slugs, and salamanders to reproduce and over-winter. 

Interested in planting trees to help Maryland meet its goal of planting 5 million trees by 2031? Come learn more about the Trees for Sacred Places program and how you can participate at one of our upcoming informational session! Informational sessions will be Wednesday, March 13th from 12:00 - 1:00, and Tuesday, March 19th from 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM.

Already know that you're interested in planting trees through Trees for Sacred Places? Fill out IPC's tree planting interest form, and we'll be in touch with you soon!