Go Zero Program Plants Its One-Millionth Tree

March 17, 2010

Morning light at Mingo NWR

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy Nomadsland.

Poplar Bluff, MO — One Midwest Region national wildlife refuge is getting a big boost toward its habitat restoration goals with the donation of more than 100,000 native trees this month. The event marks a milestone for The Conservation Fund’s voluntary carbon offset program, Go Zero®—the planting of its one millionth tree—made possible by a mix of donations from corporations, foundations and individuals.

Together with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Environmental Synergy Inc. (ESI), the partners are restoring 367 acres of walnut, hickory, oak and cypress trees at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge (Mingo NWR), near Puxico, Missouri. As the forest matures, it is expected to trap an estimated 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere.

When settlers first came to Missouri’s Bootheel region, lush bottomland hardwood forests, including giant cypress and tupelo trees, blanketed the southeastern corner of the state. Beginning in the late 1800s, the forests were cut for lumber, and by the 1930s, most of the land was cleared and the lush swamplands were drained. In 1945, USFWS established Mingo NWR to protect the largest remaining tracts of bottomland hardwood forest in the region. Yet, small pockets of land within Mingo NWR remained fragmented and bare of forest, with little value for wildlife.

“The 367 acres we’re working on now were historically forested, but converted to farmland over the past three decades,” said Mingo NWR manager Ben Mense. “Restoring this area to its natural, forested condition is a high priority for the Refuge. Thanks to this partnership with Go Zero, we are able to fulfill the USFWS mission to work with others to conserve and protect fish and wildlife habitat, and the Go Zero mission to help trap carbon dioxide. In the end, we all benefit from partnerships like this.”

Go Zero works with companies and individuals to help reduce and then offset the carbon footprint of everyday activities, such as the CO2 emissions resulting from an in-town or cross-country move with U-Haul, a flight purchased from Travelocity, a package shipped from Gaiam or the electricity it takes to power a Dell notebook for three years. Customer donations help plant native trees in protected parks and wildlife refuges that will capture and store carbon over time, while also creating forest habitats that are critical to birds, fish, bears and other wildlife. Already, the Fund’s carbon-based forest restoration programs, including Go Zero, have restored 23,000 acres with seven million trees that are expected to trap more than eight million tons of CO2 as the forests mature.

More than 383,000 U-Haul customers have elected to offset their emissions through a donation to The Conservation Fund. “U-Haul and our customers have made a real difference in protecting the environment and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,” said John “J.T.” Taylor, president of U-Haul International, Inc. “We celebrate with The Conservation Fund as it plants its one millionth tree. Together we are working to help the communities where we live and serve.”

Mingo NWR is benefiting from a joint program between Carfax and Michigan International Speedway (MIS) to help offset emissions resulting from the Show Me the CARFAX Race Weekend at MIS—including the CARFAX 400 Sprint Cup Series and CARFAX 250 Nationwide Series. “Carfax is proud to support the Go Zero program,” said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax. “We’ve expanded our efforts each of the past four years at MIS to help curb the effects of climate change. There are many simple ways to make a difference and seeing how it delivers such meaningful results for dedicated groups like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a great reward.”

Colorado-based Gaiam, a lifestyle company, has collaborated with the Fund’s Go Zero program since 2006 by offering its customers the opportunity to zero out the carbon footprint associated with shipping their purchase. Gaiam was the first company in the U.S. to offer such a program. “We know the option for our customers to zero out the carbon impact of shipping their Gaiam order is important to them,” said Christopher Fisher, director of customer experience. “At Gaiam, we believe simple choices make a difference. Providing access to Go Zero is a simple, yet significant way our customers can help the earth. We congratulate The Conservation Fund on the planting of its millionth tree and are proud to be their partner.”

Travelocity and its customers have helped the Fund’s Go Zero program plant more than 23,000 trees since 2007. “We’re proud to work with The Conservation Fund to help restore America’s forests,” said Alison Presley, manager of Travelocity’s Travel for Good program. “Every time a Travelocity customer makes a donation, it’s a small but important step toward a greener, leafier tomorrow.”

Environmental Synergy Inc.(ESI), an Atlanta-based developer of forest carbon projects, will manage the planting and carbon monitoring plans, using on-site measurements over time. USFWS will manage the land and the forests as they grow. The 367-acre project will be validated against the standards of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance.


Heroes of Go Zero include:

Hundreds of thousands of dedicated individuals, Accenture Supply Chain Academy, Americas Lodging Investment Summit, Bella Figura Letterpress Invitations, Carfax, Inc., City of Austin, Conde Nast Publications, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Dell Computer Corporation, Delta Air Lines, Inc., e-Blue Horizons, LLC, Ernest Maier Block, Florida Center for Environmental Studies, Gaiam, Inc., Indianapolis Colts NFL, Land Rover Portland, Lee County Board of County Commissioners, L’Oreal USA, Inc., McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC, Michigan International Speedway, Molinaro Koger, NBC Universal, New Jersey Natural Gas, Organic, Inc., Philadelphia Eagles, Premiere TV, Inc., Reverb Inc., SEAT Planners Incorporated, Sesco Lighting, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., The North Face, Training Resources Group LLC, Travelocity, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U-Haul International, Inc., University of Delaware, Vans, Way Basics, William McDonough & Partners, P.L.C., World Class Charters, Inc.

About USFWS:

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.