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INSIGHTS: Lawyers Branch Out to Plant One Million Trees
By Carolyn Lamm, President, American Bar Association

CHICAGO, Illinois, September 23, 2009 (ENS) - When lawyers gather in West Baltimore to plant trees at the Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School on September 23, they'll do more than beautify the neighborhood. They'll set an example of service to the school children and the community, and they'll help the environment.

American Bar Assn. President Carolyn Lamm (Photo courtesy ABA)
The One Million Trees Project launched by the American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, calls on America's lawyers to plant one million trees across the United States in the next five years to raise awareness of the benefits of trees, and particularly their role in helping to fight climate change.

The project also builds a spirit of cooperation with the participating partners including Alliance for Community Trees and their local affiliate, the Parks & People Foundation. The Alliance for Community Trees and Home Depot Foundation sponsor NeighborWoods Month, the annual October celebration to draw attention to the value of trees in our communities.

In a sense, the Million Trees Project is an ecological extension of a sensibility already present among lawyers - it's another form of pro bono work. The legal profession in the United States is among the very few that calls on its members to make a difference in their communities through pro bono work. And nearly three-quarters of lawyers - 73 percent - report providing free legal services for people of limited means, according to an ABA study released in February 2009 on the pro bono work of America's lawyers.

As lawyers across the country put down the roots of a million new trees over the next five years, they will join a movement begun 39 years ago when the first Earth Day helped ordinary people realize the impact humans have on air, water and soil, and the need to repair their damage.

The trees lawyers will plant sustain the planet in very specific ways.

Trees:

  • Remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Reduce energy use by shading homes and office buildings.
  • Remove other gaseous pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, ozone, and nitrogen oxides by absorbing them with normal air components through the stomata in the leaf surface.
  • Reduce topsoil erosion, prevent harmful land pollutants contained in the soil from getting into our waterways, slow down water run-off, and ensure that our groundwater supplies are continually being replenished.
The West Baltimore planting is an opportunity for the Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School students to learn these benefits in a hands-on way. Perhaps more important, the event sets an example of the value of service and demonstrates the good that can happen when a community comes together. That lesson is one that no amount of textbook learning can teach.

Lawyers are known as defenders of justice. This project demonstrates their broader responsibility to be community leaders who can lead the charge to improve the environment and create more neighborly, supportive communities.

Lawyers across the country are encouraged to contribute to the One Million Trees Project by participating in hands-on tree planting in their own communities, engaging in educational outreach efforts or purchasing a tree through any of the program's partners.

{The tree-planting launch is part of the American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Fall Meeting on September 24 in Baltimore. President Barack Obama's counselor for energy and climate change, Jody Freeman, along with Scott Fulton, acting deputy administrator and general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will address the meeting. On the agenda are climate change, the siting of wind power facilities, clean water, and building a smart electricity grid.}

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.



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