Ready to RETREET?

September 12, 2023

You read that correctly. It’s not “retweet,” but “RETREET”!

This summer, it seems there is a wildfire, hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake, or other natural disaster in the news almost daily. You aren’t imagining an uptick. The United Nations issued a report in October 2020 which found that natural disasters are occurring with greater frequency—3x more often than 50 years ago. This increased frequency is coupled with increasing intensity and greater complexity, so natural disasters are also affecting wider groups of people.

These events lead to the loss of life, property, infrastructure, and nature. RETREET was founded in 2012 to help replace the lost trees and rebuild the tree canopy following natural disasters.

“The RETREET program addresses an often-overlooked part of the recovery process. Trees are destroyed alongside infrastructure and housing in every natural disaster,” says Grady McGahan, founder of RETREET. “Planting new trees brings life back to a neighborhood and produces an immense psychological impact by making unfamiliar, decimated landscapes feel like home again.”

By November 2021, the program brought 5,953 trees to thousands of families recovering from natural disasters in 21 communities across North America, per Keep America Beautiful’s (KAB) news release about the program. Because RETREET’s mission aligns closely with the KAB goal of restoration and resiliency, the two programs merged in 2021. RETREET is now a flagship program of KAB.

“RETREET’s programs are impactful and meaningful at the community level. The Keep America Beautiful 2021-2025 Strategic Plan highlights the importance of the work of RETREET through a focus on community restoration and resiliency,” said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Dr. Helen Lowman when announcing the merger. “Keep America Beautiful’s RETREET program will lead the way, providing grants and program tools for communities to plant trees in post-disaster communities and plant trees, flowers, shrubs and more in public spaces to mitigate future damage from disasters.”

RETREET brings community volunteers together to plant and care for native trees following natural disasters. Visit KAB to learn more about volunteering or supporting this worthwhile program.

Image credit: yacobchuk | iStock | Getty Images Plus