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By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Miami-Dade County is hosting its 19th annual Adopt-A-Tree event Saturday, July 13th from 9AM to 12PM. County residents can pick up their trees at Camp Matecumbe/Boystown.

Miami-Dade County Adopt-a-Tree, Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, News
The Adopt-a-Tree program began after community groups and government agencies sought to improve the dwindling tree canopy in Miami-Dade County, photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County.

The Adopt-A-Tree program is designed to improve the quantity of Miami-Dade’s tree canopy. In 2008, the University of Florida and the Division of Environment Resources Management conducted a tree-cover analysis that revealed that urban areas within the county averaged just twelve percent tree coverage.

Since the program’s inception in 2001, over 200,000 trees have been adopted. Mango, pigeon plum, mulberry, longan and black ironwood trees are all available for pick up. Each tree is specifically chosen for the shade it will provide in its adulthood.

Residents can also bring their current showerheads and three heavily-used, regular light bulbs to the event. In exchange, participants can get up to two high-efficiency showerheads and up to three energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs for free. Trees, showerheads and light bulbs are all available while supplies last.

The Adopt-a-Tree program began after community groups and government agencies sought to improve the dwindling tree canopy in Miami-Dade County.

Some were concerned about the loss of shade after the removal of citrus canker diseased trees. In the fall of 2000, Miami-Dade petitioned the Florida Department of Agriculture for money restore the loss of shade trees.

Residents are advised to bring a photo I.D. and to arrive early as trees are distributed on a first-come, first served basis. Only county residents that currently live in single family or duplex townhomes are eligible to Adopt-A-Tree.

Condominium owners qualify if they present written authorization from their housing association, allowing them to plant their trees in a designated common place. Apartment buildings and trailer parks do not qualify for the program.

Miami, Miami Beach, Florida, News, Mango Tree
A fully grown mango tree, just one of the tree species the Adopt-a-Tree program offers for free, photo internet recreation.

Planting trees is extremely beneficial to not only the environment, but for homeowners and wildlife. Trees can lessen flooding by absorbing excess rain water and provide a natural habitat for wildlife.

Additionally, planting trees can reduce air-conditioning costs by providing shade and improve a home’s appearance, which ultimately can help increase property value. Trees also reduce the impact of climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air.

A recent study published in Science Magazine, planting trees may be the cheapest and most efficient method to combat climate change.

“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said professor and senior study author Tom Crowther of ETH Zurich.

Researchers discovered that if trees were planted in all of the available land, aside from farms or urban areas, the new trees would absorb two-thirds of all human-related carbon emissions.

“Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today and it provides hard evidence to justify investment,” Crowther said.

“If we act now, this could cut carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 25 percent, to levels last seen almost a century ago.”

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