It’s no secret that the palms are an endangered species in Florida.
The rainforest-dwelling plants and trees used to blanket the state’s landscape, provided sunshine for ships, and lit up the state with their mysterious honeydew-like hue. The mountains and beaches that made Florida so special were so dense with its tropical vegetation that the entire state could be named after it.
Now, overgrown palm trees covered in the netherworld of urban overgrowth are to be replaced with native trees and shrubs that will provide the land with a verdant backdrop for rebuilding neighborhoods in Florida’s “sinking” Everglades region, which is under threat from climate change.
On Tuesday, the state announced it will use the largest project in its history to preserve and replant the long-threatened trees that were once a backbone of the ecosystem that allowed Florida to flourish as the “Pearl of the American West.” The plan also represents a first step to become the first major American state to plant trees of “climate-resilient” species, according to the Associated Press.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the state could lose up to 75 percent of its remaining groves of the state’s native trees by 2050 because of climate change, in addition to damaging rainfall and an ever-changing ecosystem that is becoming more salt-prone, though factors ranging from pellucid rain to mosquito infestations are also contributing to the demise of Florida’s trees.
The five-year restoration project, dubbed a “landscape refresh,” will bring back palm trees of “native, Florida-style vegetation” such as citrus, and mix them with “climate-resilient” trees, like grand firs, for a sustainable way to bring the Everglades back from the brink of devastation. The wetland area surrounding the land will be planted with the new trees starting next month.
The first planting of the new trees is slated for Sept. 7, which represents the special time that Palm Sunday and Columbus Day fall in the same week in Florida.
During the time of the second planting of the trees, nearly 1,600 will be planted across 13 sites that border the 18th-century reservation that some believe is the place the slave trade really began, according to the AP. That second planting will also be notable.
Last year, Florida decided that Christmas trees — native to the Northeastern states and not from Florida, are ok to use, and can be harvested and sent to your local park.