Trees are one of the most integral components of the urban landscape. Trees sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, improve air quality, reduce soil erosion by catching precipitation in their leaf canopies, and lower air temperatures in urban areas – among many other things.
In efforts to take full advantage of the benefits trees offer, several city initiatives place their focus on sprouting and sustaining the urban canopy. The Livable Nashville Committee, a Mayor-appointed group of public and private leaders charged with enhancing environmental quality in Nashville, discovered that between 2008 and 2016, the tree canopy in Nashville had fallen from 28% to 24%. To remedy this situation, the committee has recommended planting 500,000 trees in Davidson County by 2050.
Metro Nashville Government recently elevated the importance of trees by enacting Executive Order Number 40 on January 19, 2018. Several city departments, including Water Services, Parks, Codes Administration, Public Works, General Services, and Planning work together to conduct tree-related programs under the Order. The Urban Forestry Program Manager, Naomi Rotramel, leads communication between these agencies, as well as other non-governmental partners. In addition to establishing trees as a critical part of Nashville infrastructure, the Mayor mandated that tree plantings and removals be closely monitored and reported, that street trees and trees on Metro property be inventoried, and that a professional tree-care contractor be hired. In the face of rapid urban development in Nashville, the Order is a vital piece of policy securing a green future for a growing city.
Along with the proactive work being done within Metro government, various nonprofits in Nashville advocate for the protection and expansion of the city’s urban forest. Examples include: Nashville Tree Foundation, SoundForest, Cumberland River Compact, Hands on Nashville, Tennessee Environmental Council, and Arbor Day Foundation. All of these nonprofits offer opportunities to donate to or volunteer in the cause of making Nashville a greener city. If you would like to spearhead your own tree planting initiative, follow these links to learn how. Socket's recent Arbor Day blog provides a great history of how people celebrate trees by planting.
Maryam Muhammad, Summer Intern with the Division of Sustainability, authored this blog.