National Tree Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of August. It is celebrated in conjunction with School Tree Day on the last Friday of July. This year, it falls on August 6. National Tree Day is Australia’s largest community tree-planting and nature care event. Around 300,000 people volunteer this day to engage in environmental activities that educate Australians about the world around them.
It’s important to plant trees and to take care of our natural environment because trees absorb and capture carbon from our atmosphere. The timber they produce is also an important, environmentally friendly building material because it stores carbon and is a renewable resource.
History of National Tree Day
In 1594, the mayor of the Spanish village of Mondoedo hosted the world’s first documented arbor plantation festival. Later, in 1805, a priest named Don Juan Abern Samtrés lived in the community of Villanueva de la Sierra, who recognized the importance of trees for health, cleanliness, decoration, nature, environment, and customs. He decided to plant trees on Carnival Tuesday to make it more joyful, which is now known as Arbor Day.
The celebration began with a Mass and lasted three days. Following the Mass, Samtrés, accompanied by priests, instructors, and a large crowd of neighbors, planted the first tree — a poplar — in the Valley of the Ejido. There was a feast and dancing later. Samtrés wrote a manifesto in defense of trees, which he distributed to nearby towns to foster love and respect for the environment and encourage them to plant trees in their communities.
In 1872, the first American Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska. In 1883, Birdsey Northrop of Connecticut visited Japan and delivered his Arbor Day and Village Improvement message, and in the same year, the American Forestry Association made Northrop the Chairman of the committee to campaign for Arbor Day nationwide. He also shared Arbor Day with Australia, Canada, and Europe.
Arbor Day was first celebrated in Australia on June 20, 1889. Many states in Australia have Arbor Day, although Victoria has an Arbor Week, which was suggested by Premier Rupert Hamer in the 1980s. The country decided to take it a step further by establishing National Tree Day in 1996, and since then, the program has seen communities plant almost 26 million trees. In 2019, the Planet Ark Environmental Foundation created “The Seedling Bank” to provide financial support to schools and community groups where seedlings are needed the most.
National Tree Day timeline
It is organized by the mayor of the Spanish village of Mondoñedo.
Don Juan Abern Samtrés, a priest living in the Spanish village of Villanueva de la Sierra, decides to plant trees and celebrate Carnival Tuesday with a three-day festival and suggests neighboring towns do the same.
First celebrated in Nebraska, this tradition spreads throughout the country and later to Japan, Australia, Canada, and Europe.
Many states in Australia celebrate Arbor Day on June 20, although Victoria later has an Arbor Week.
Since then, the program sees communities plant almost 26 million trees.
National Tree Day FAQs
What is Australia's national tree?
Australia’s national floral emblem is the golden wattle — Acacia pycnantha Benth.
Which is the oldest tree in the world?
The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine — ‘Pinus Longaeva — is over 5,000 years old.
What two trees are native to Australia?
Two native trees native to Australia are the Melaleuca, known colloquially as paperbark, and eucalypts.
National Tree Day Activities
Plant a tree
You can host or join a planting through the official National Tree Day website. If that’s too much trouble, simply gather with some friends and family and select a piece of land in which you can do this on your own.
Donate to the Seedling Bank
To get the seeds and organize the event, donations are as important as having volunteers. Go through the National Tree Day website to learn more and donate.
Clean the environment
It’s not just about planting trees. National Tree Day is also about looking after nature, and you can do this by volunteering through the website, if not, you can take care of this on your own by simply cleaning your local park or green space and putting everything in a recycling bin.
5 Mind-blowing Facts About Trees
Carbon absorption per year
One tree’s carbon absorption per year is equal to the amount a car produces while driving 26,000 miles.
Old trees are more valuable
A mature tree can absorb almost 70 times more carbon than a newly planted tree.
A tree becomes mature and able to reach its maximum carbon absorption stage when it’s ten years old.
They help lower air temperature
This happens when the water in their leaves evaporates.
They improve water quality
This is done by slowing and filtering rainwater, as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.
Why We Love National Tree Day
We love trees
Trees do even more things for us than what we’ve just mentioned. They provide food, shelter, shade, stabilize the soil, prevent erosion, and more. We must give something back to them.
It teaches children about the importance of trees
While this is technically done on School Tree Day, it’s still organized by Planet Ark and commonly seen all as one single event. Kids are the ones we are giving this world to, and they must learn how much trees do for us and how to plant and take care of them.
It’s a day to clean the environment
This isn’t something that benefits just trees, many animals directly suffer the consequences of things like plastic bags or undrinkable water. Eventually, all that comes back to what we eat, drink, and even the air we breathe.
National Tree Day dates