The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) in Royal Oak, Mich., is taking another step forward on its Green Journey with a major reforestation initiative. To help address climate change and its effects, the DZS has pledged for 2021 and 2022 to plant a total of 2,000 trees on its campuses and–in collaboration with ReLeaf Michigan–in communities across Metro Detroit.
“We have only just started planting and have already made wonderful progress towards this goal,” said Chief Operating Officer, Gerry Van Acker.
The average tree absorbs 48 pounds of carbon dioxide and 1,673 gallons of storm water every year. Adding hundreds of trees to the Detroit Zoo’s existing population of 7,000 will make a big difference for nearby communities by helping to improve air and water quality. Trees and other vegetation also reduce heat island effect (urbanized areas experiencing higher than average temperatures) by providing shade. According to the EPA, shaded surfaces may be 20–45°F cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded surfaces.
Trees, especially native species like dogwood, also provide shelter and food for birds, insects, and small mammals such as squirrels. These animals then disperse the trees’ seeds, allowing new saplings to grow.
“We are meticulously selecting a variety of species that will add value and biodiversity to our campus, as well as focusing on trees whose clippings make great snacks for the animals who live at Detroit Zoo,” said Van Acker.
To educate and empower others, the DZS will feature ways to “go green” on its Facebook page during Earth Week (April 19-23). Also, visitors to the Detroit Zoo on April 22 will be able to participate in GreenFest presented by DTE Energy, the DZS’s annual Earth Day celebration. Guests at this event will learn how to cultivate their own green space and can take home saplings and pollinator seeds.