Mayor O’Connell Reaffirms Nashville’s Commitment to Urban Tree Canopy

Mayor Freddie O'Connell signs executive order to protect and expand Nashville's tree canopy.

In recognition of National Arbor Day, Mayor Freddie O’Connell is reiterating Nashville’s commitment to a healthy urban tree canopy. Today, an executive order from Mayor O’Connell will go into effect, reaffirming the city’s tree policy as Mayor Megan Barry originally established through executive order #40.

The policy will manage the city’s tree canopy with protection and expansion programs that also provide flexibility to ensure neighborhood character is not disrupted.

“We have work to do, and we need Nashvillians’ help. The most room for improvement is on private land, commercial and industrial properties, and single-family residential. Increasing the tree canopy in those areas is a great investment in all of us and our future,” Mayor Freddie O’Connell said. “This executive order will guide department efforts to work alongside the revived Sustainability Advisory Committee and Tree Advisory Committee.”

The Executive Order comes amid a record period of tree planting. Metro has planted more than 2,000 trees in the past six months. There are now 43,348 trees registered on Root Nashville website tree counter. This season, in support of the Root Nashville campaign, the Cumberland River Compact planted 6,645 large trees at 1,467 different addresses, including 1,266 new Davidson County trees in February alone. That’s about as many as the Compact planted in an entire season just five years ago.

“Our tree canopy represents what makes Nashville our beloved home,” said Mekayle Houghton, the Executive Director of Cumberland River Compact which leads the public-private partnership, Root Nashville. “It supports clean water, clean air, shade during hot summers, home to biodiversity in the middle of the city, and astounding beauty. When we protect and grow our urban tree canopy, we are nurturing a sustainable city for future generations.”

The tree canopy within Davidson County has increased by 1.6 percent over the past 11 years. However, between 2016 and 2021, Metro Nashville’s tree canopy declined by 674 acres. That’s why it’s important to plant, especially during a period of intense development.

Based on an analysis of 2021 high resolution imagery, 56 percent of Metro Nashville is tree canopy, but there is significant potential for growth as an additional 24 percent of land could support canopy in the future.

Metro Water’s Urban Tree Canopy report recommends that the Urban Services District should utilize over 32,000 acres of possible plantable space to offset the expansive number of impervious surfaces. About one third of the Urban Services District’s land area – 40,814 acres (32%) – is an impervious surface like asphalt, concrete, brick, or stone.

The executive order reaffirms the city’s continued support of the tree policy, and it empowers the Departments of Water and Sewerage Services, Parks, General Services, Codes, Planning, Library and Transportation & Multimodal Infrastructure to continue management of the tree program.

Earlier in April, Metro Council confirmed the first 10 members of the newly formed Sustainability Advisory Committee. This group will advise the mayor’s office and Metro departments on a number of critical sustainability and resiliency topics.

Mayor O’Connell encourages Nashvillians to get involved doing their part to support Nashville’s tree canopy by volunteering or planting with Root Nashville.

Source: Read Original Release

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