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Maryland Department of the Environment

Maryland Environment Secretary McIlwain Celebrates Initiative to Plant 5 Million Trees

Maryland Environment Secretary McIlwain Celebrates Initiative to Plant 5 Million Trees

Department of the Environment Joins Key Partners in Earth Day Tree Planting in Baltimore, Announces New Tracking Tool and Resources for Achieving Tree-Planting Goal to Reduce Carbon in the Atmosphere and Combat Climate Change while Providing Additional Benefits; Effort Supports Equity, Targets Tree Planting in Underserved Urban Communities

BALTIMORE (April 21, 2023) – Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Serena McIlwain celebrated progress in the state’s ambitious plan to plant millions of trees by joining in an Earth Day tree planting today in Baltimore.

Secretary McIlwain participated in a tree planting held by the Baltimore Tree Trust, in partnership with the Lafayette Square Community Association and Upton Planning Committee, in the Harlem Park neighborhood.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is the coordinating agency for the state’s plan to plant and maintain 5 million native trees in Maryland by 2031. A key focus of this effort is supporting equity through the targeted planting of at least 500,000 of these trees in underserved urban communities.

MDE has also released a new initiative website and tree registration and tracking tool to support progress on this ambitious initiative.

“Maryland’s 5 Million Trees initiative is working to ensure communities across Maryland, including underserved urban communities, have the resources they need to help us have cleaner, greener and safer communities. Planting trees provides the added benefit of helping to reach Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay restoration and climate goals,” said Secretary McIlwain. “Trees capture carbon to help us reach our climate goals, reduce flooding, improve the quality of our air and water and reduce heat islands. We thank the hosts of today’s tree planting event, along with all our partners in this important and ambitious initiative.”

The 5 million trees plan was produced by the Maryland Commission for the Innovation and Advancement of Carbon Markets and Sustainable Tree Plantings, which was established by the Maryland General Assembly as part of the Tree Solutions Now Act of 2021. The initiative builds upon the state’s existing investments in climate action, ecosystem restoration and forest management.

As the coordinating agency for the initiative, MDE led a multi-agency effort to design the new website and tracking tool. All lead implementing agencies have worked with MDE to provide data and design support, including the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland Department of Transportation and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Maryland Environmental Service led the development of the website and tracking tool.

The website allows participants to identify eligible planting programs, access tree care resources, and learn more about how the 5 million trees initiative advances shared goals. The tracking tool allows agencies, private organizations and individuals to register their plantings and “get counted” toward the 5 million tree statewide target. This data can be used to measure progress toward such environmental benefits as improved air quality and the capture of carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

The tracking tool will also help the state and private partners target future initiative resources across Maryland. Researchers from the University of Maryland College Park and NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System are helping the state use this new planting data to improve Maryland’s forest carbon inventory and support progress toward the state’s ambitious climate goals.

Today’s tree planting was funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Urban Trees Grant Program.