Charlotte, North Carolina is proud to be known and valued for its vibrant urban tree canopy. When viewed from above, tree canopy covers 47% of the city, which makes Charlotte one of the highest canopy cities in the U.S. On top of the aesthetic benefits Charlotte's trees provide, the city receives over $335 million in real benefits and services from these trees every year.
Despite these valuable benefits, the city's tree canopy is at risk. The two most pressing concerns are a large population of mature trees reaching the end of their natural lifespan, along with significant losses from development as the city grows. Loss of tree canopy results in serious public health issues, including poor air and water quality, and declining communities and wildlife habitat.
To ensure that this canopy is preserved and maintained for generations to come, both the City of Charlotte and TreesCharlotte have spent much of 2016 proactively working to identify the greatest challenges facing this important city asset, as well as the most comprehensive ways to reach the city's 50% canopy goal by 2050. Thanks to involvement of over 40 organizations, almost 3,000 public citizens, and the urban forestry expertise and national perspective provided by Davey Resource Group, a clear path forward has been established through twelve action steps:
Part 1: Get a Team Together
Because over 80% of the city's tree canopy is located on private land, real progress can only be made from a larger community team. The first three action steps focus on forming a structure of organizations that will be critical to tackling the remaining work.
ACTION STEP 1: Canopy Team Formation
A "Canopy Team" will be developed to allow implementation through partnership.
ACTION STEP 2: Redefine and Expand the Partnership between TreesCharlotte & City of Charlotte
ACTION STEP 3: Engage the Neighborhoods.
Efforts to better engage neighborhoods are critical to support tree canopy efforts at the local level.
Part 2: Tackle the To-Do List Together
Several next steps for this project have been defined to help reach the 50% canopy goal:
ACTION STEP 4: Update the Tree Canopy Assessment
All work should be based on solid data findings. An updated UTC and change analysis is key.
ACTION STEP 5: Initiate a Citywide Identity Campaign
Charlotte is unique because of its canopy. Education and awareness can stem from city pride.
ACTION STEP 6: Connect Expertise and Resources Where Most Needed
Large trees are expensive to maintain yet extremely valuable to the community. This position could fill the gap in expertise to help residents of all income levels make good tree care decisions.
ACTION STEP 7: Explore Corporate Partnership Opportunities
Charlotte's corporate community is extensive but not yet fully engaged in tree canopy efforts.
ACTION STEP 8: Further Study Impacts from Development
Is the tree protection ordinance effective?
ACTION STEP 9: Refine and Improve Communication and Education
The final three action steps focus on how city staff can improve proactive management of public trees:
ACTION STEP 10: Complete and Update Tree Inventory Data
ACTION STEP 11: Formalize a Management Plan for Public Trees
ACTION STEP 12: Refine the Public Tree Planting Strategy