Urban Forest Master Plan

Champion of Trees
10.16.17
Fighting for Our Trees
10.16.17

Takeaways from the comprehensive plan conducted by the City of Charlotte to protect the urban tree canopy

In order to meet the city’s goal of increasing Charlotte’s tree canopy to 50 percent by the year 2050, community leaders, residents and local organizations must take increased action, including a proactive management plan and greater engagement of residents in plantings, tree care and advocacy.

These are some of the takeaways from an urban forest master plan completed this spring by TreesCharlotte and the City of Charlotte. The plan is intended to serve as a guide to maintain, protect and enhance Charlotte’s canopy in the face of risks such as tree loss due to natural aging, development and lack of education and awareness. The plan was developed with input from nearly 3,000 residents along with analysis from Davey Resource Group.

“This is a master plan for the community, and in order to reach the goal of 50 percent canopy by 2050, we need to have full community support for that,” says Erin Oliverio, tree canopy program manager at the City of Charlotte.

Today, Charlotte’s tree canopy covers 47 percent of the city. In addition to the aesthetic benefits provided, Charlotte’s trees provide the city more than $335 million in real benefits and services, including increases in property values and reduced stormwater runoff.

Three analyses conducted as part of the master plan revealed, however, that not only is the 50 percent goal in jeopardy, but an overall net loss of canopy is likely, with tree coverage dropping as low as 41 percent based upon the city’s future land use map. And in 30 years, older neighborhoods such as Myers Park could lose an estimated 60 percent of their street trees due to natural aging.

Many lower-income areas in Charlotte also host a significant number of mature trees, but properly caring for large, mature trees is a significant financial burden for many homeowners. Additionally, there is a lack of awareness of the benefits that trees provide and how to care for them. While many citizens want to work on their neighborhood tree canopies and expressed that sentiment during public meetings held during the planning process, there is no active organization at the neighborhood level allowing for local involvement.

The plan recommends 12 action steps, and the first three are the creation of a Canopy Team, an expanded partnership between TreesCharlotte and the City, and neighborhood engagement. The expanded partnership suggests a greater role for TreesCharlotte, which is suited to scale up tree planting, young tree care and engagement with increased funding, freeing up city resources for more technical needs.

Subsequent action steps revolve around the implementation of the plan, including refined and improved communication and education, updated tree inventory data and a refined tree planting strategy.

The Canopy Team held its first organizational meeting on June 21 and created four committees focused on corporate engagement, creative funding, development study and neighborhood engagement.

To see the comprehensive Urban Forest Master Plan, visit TreesCharlotte.org and look for the Urban Forest Master Plan link. To join one of the Canopy Team committees, contact Erin Oliverio at eoliverio@charlottenc.gov.

 

To address these challenges and to maintain and enhance Charlotte’s tree canopy, the master plan identified four initial goals: 

A comprehensive organization structure, or Canopy Team, with adjusted roles for the City of Charlotte and TreesCharlotte 

A new canopy assessment to allow for further study of the impacts of development and aging trees

A proactive management plan by the city for the care and replacement of Charlotte’s 180,000 street trees

Broad and meaningful engagement of Charlotte residents in tree plantings, tree care and advocacy

 

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