US Pledges $50M to The Amazon Fund, Study Proves Planting Trees Can Save Lives! Meet Portland’s Friends of Trees!

by | Feb 16, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

US Pledges $50M to The Amazon Fund, Study Proves Planting Trees Can Save Lives! Meet Portland’s Friends of Trees!



Yesterday, The Climate Daily reported on a possible renewal of support by the United States for the Amazon Fund. Today we can report that support has been affirmed. During the highly anticipated meeting between Biden and Lula at the Oval Office in the White House, the U.S. government agreed to work with Brazil on supporting the Amazon Fund,

In a joint statement, both countries said the United States announced its intent to work with Congress to provide funds for programs to protect and conserve the Brazilian Amazon, including initial support for the Amazon Fund, and to leverage investments in this critical region. In an interview with Mongabay, Natalie Unterstell, president of the climate policy think tank Talanoa Institute, said, “The confirmation of the U.S.’s entry in the Amazon Fund is a significant change in the way the U.S. deals with climate finance for Brazil as it transfers resources for Brazilian governance instead of acting via a cooperation agency. It’s really positive,”

In 2015, The U.S. and Brazil joined forces to create the Climate Change Working Group to discuss issues relating to land use, clean energy and domestic and global environmental agendas. Another result of this recent negotiation was a commitment to increase meetings of the CCWG.  

Why does renewed support of the Amazon Fund matter to us? The impact of the fund cannot be overstated. Since its inception in 2008 by Germany and Norway, the Amazon Fund has risen to become the most important international cooperation securing donations to prevent, monitor and eliminate deforestation while promoting sustainability. So far, it has supported 102 projects, including combating forest fires in the Amazonian state of Rondônia, enhancing sustainable production of forest resources and ensuring food security for riverine peoples.

DEEPER DIVE: Official Statement, Climate Change Working Group, The Amazon Fund



This is what we live for here at The Climate Daily: A 30-year tree planting campaign in Portland, Oregon, allowed researchers to show that the number of trees planted in the street is associated with reductions in mortality, and that the association grows stronger as the trees age and grow. Evidence pointing to an association between exposure to nature and lower mortality is accumulating.

Seems intuitive, but why does this study matter to us? Because it’s got the data! According to Payam Dadvand, ISGlobal researcher and senior author of the study, “Most studies use satellite imaging to estimate the vegetation index, which does not distinguish different types of vegetation and cannot be directly translated into tangible interventions.”

The study, co-led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by the “la caizha” Caixa” Foundation, together with the US Forest Service, was published in Environment InternationalIts authors took advantage of a natural experiment that took place in the city of Portland between 1990 and 2019. Friends of Trees planted 49,246 street trees (and kept records of where the trees were planted, and when). The research team looked at the number of trees planted in a given area (specifically, a census track, where approximately 4,000 people live) in the preceding 5, 10 or 15 years. They associated this information with mortality due to cardiovascular, respiratory or non-accidental causes in that same area, using data from the Oregon Health Authority.

The results show that in neighborhoods in which more trees had been planted, mortality rates (deaths per 100,000 persons) were lower. Furthermore, the association got stronger as trees aged and grew: the reduction in mortality rate associated with trees planted 11-15 years before (30%) was double that observed with trees planted in the preceding 1-5 years (15%). This means that older trees are associated with larger decreases in mortality, and that preserving existing mature trees may be particularly important for public health. Boom.

DEEPER DIVE: ISGLOBAL STUDY, Friends of Trees, La Caixa Foundation



Friends of Trees was founded in 1989 by Portland resident Richard Seidman. Inspired by a national Global ReLeaf program, Richard wanted to create an organization that both helped the environment and brought people together through the act of planting trees in Portland neighborhoods and natural areas. Today, Friends of Trees is a nationally recognized, regional leader in improving the urban tree canopy and restoring sensitive natural areas—through programs delivered by thousands of volunteers.

It is widely acknowledged that planting trees is a key part of a comprehensive climate strategy. It is our experience at Friends of Trees that planting trees with community members is also key to fighting climate change. Planting and caring for trees increases community members’ engagement with the environment and overall participation in civic life, including engaging around climate action. There is a ripple effect from volunteering to plant trees that also fights climate change, beyond the actual trees.

Yashar Vasef, executive director of Friends of Trees, said, “Across the board, the benefits of trees are astounding. And they come at a lower cost than many other solutions.” In 33 years of service, Friends of Trees has planted 910,000 trees and native shrubs in the Portland-Vancouver-Salem and Eugene-Springfield metro areas. Check out “The Friends of the Trees Way” webpage. It’s great gouge on how to replicate this in your neck of the woods.