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IKEA to Partner with American Forests Disaster ReLeaf to Restore Asbury Park’s Urban Forest
[National]  (July 3, 2013 – Conshohocken, PA) IKEA and American Forests Disaster ReLeaf are partnering this month to help restore the urban forest in Asbury Park, N.J., that was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
In the wake of the storm, people everywhere stepped up to support victims all along the Atlantic Coast. But storms like Sandy also have long-term consequences that aren’t addressed in the immediate aftermath. Parks and neighborhoods that were valued by families for generations for their beautiful trees and plentiful shade were severely damaged. On top of that, Asbury Park has lost environmental benefits provided by its urban forest. With the support and partnership with IKEA, American Forests will help to strategically replant trees throughout Asbury Park.

These efforts are a key part of a new program that American Forests launched this year called Community ReLeaf, which works with communities to assess and restore urban forests. This three-stage program combines assessments, strategic restoration and outreach and education. Reaching geographically diverse communities across the country, American Forests aims to bring national attention to the value of our urban forests and the importance of restoration to enhance their sustainability and contributions to community well-being.

To help support the American Forests’ Disaster Re-Leaf program, every time an IKEA customer scans their IKEA FAMILY card between July 1st-31st, IKEA will make a donation to American Forests’ Disaster Re-Leaf program (Up to $ 50,000 and the donation amount per scan will be approx 10 cents per scan). This scan and donate activity donations will help restore the urban forest in Asbury Park, New Jersey, that was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. This activity is a collaborative partnership between IKEA US, American Forests and IKEA customers.

Urban forests are critical to health and quality of life within our cities, giving back to our communities by reducing energy demand, cleaning our air, managing storm water, increasing property values and improving overall well-being. It is estimated that urban trees in the lower 48 states remove approximately 784,000 tons of air pollution annually, with a value of $3.8 billion.

Unfortunately, these urban trees are constantly facing challenges such as urban expansion, invasive pests, changing climate and underfunded management and maintenance. Our nation is losing urban forest canopy at a rate of around four million trees a year.

With urban forests declining, critical ecosystems that are vital to creating healthy and livable communities are being lost, which makes current assessments and the development of restoration strategies for urban forests imperative. This is where American Forests can help. They will first assess the state of the current urban tree canopy in Asbury Park and other communities across the country and use these assessments to model scenarios to inform restoration that will most benefit the community. The assessments will give insight into the overall state of each city’s urban forest and the environmental services each provide, such as energy savings and carbon storage, as well as water and air quality benefits. With this information, key restoration areas and plans will be identified, and American Forests will start planting trees in the fall. Each Community ReLeaf project is tailored to the needs of each community and urban forest. For example, in Asbury Park, the project is assessing how the urban forest canopy has changed due to Hurricane Sandy in order to prioritize and inform future urban restoration to best benefit the local community.
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ABOUT IKEA
IKEA, the world's largest home furnishings retailer, was founded in 1943 in Sweden. Since that time, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design, quality and function at low prices so the majority of people can afford them. There are currently more than 340 IKEA stores in 41 countries, including 38 in the U.S. IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information, see IKEA-USA.com, facebook.com/IKEAUSA, @DesignByIKEA, and http://pinterest.com/IKEAUSA/.

ABOUT AMERICAN FORESTS
American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many of the most important milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. In the last two decades, American Forests has planted more than 44 million trees in forests throughout the U.S. and in 44 countries, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at www.americanforests.org