Alliance for Community Trees Newsletters

Richmond Partners Organize To Grow Urban Forest

By Conni Kunzler | January 2, 2017

Richmond, VA (December 30, 3016) – As a city of considerable age, Richmond is fortunate to have a significant number of older trees in varying densities across the landscape. The importance of these trees, particularly in urban areas, is substantial. Richmond Dispatch columnist Tee Clarkson outlines how local partners are organizing around the city’s tree canopy.

Volunteers planted trees at Minikahda Vista Park during the NeighborWoods Kick-Off Event Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 in St Louis Park, Minnesota. (Craig Lassig/AP Images for Arbor Day Foundation)

Photo courtesy Craig Lassig/AP Images for Arbor Day Foundation

“We are way past the hippie, tree-hugger mentality when it comes to the benefits of urban trees,” said Joel Koci, an associate with the Urban Forestry Extension at Virginia State University. “We have real science to back up the benefits of urban forest.”

Koci pointed specifically to the benefits of trees in sequestering carbon in leaves, trunk and root systems, the absorbing of particulate matter such as harmful chemicals and heavy metals, the absorbing of solar radiation, as well as the reduction of storm water runoff and erosion.

An older, more mature tree can collect more than 70 percent of rainfall when in full foliage, according to Koci, plus mitigate up to 14,000 gallons of storm water a year, all while decreasing erosion, a significant polluter of the Chesapeake Bay.

Much was made of the proposed removal of more than 40 trees in the Northside after the severe storm that hit the area in June. Koci prefers more of a pruning and maintaining method when possible, rather than removal, and has worked with the city to identify trees that can be saved in the area, noting the number of trees now scheduled for removal in the Northside has dropped to 13.

Koci pointed to the work of nonprofits such as Capital Trees’ Lowline project as a great example of what can be accomplished with urban tree planting in Richmond.

The Enrichmond Foundation, on which Clarkson is a board member, is joining the list of nonprofits with a focus on urban tree planting by establishing an Urban TreeLab on the Northside in an abandoned greenhouse.

“Enrichmond has always been about supporting the city’s parks and public spaces and is looking into ways we can help more,” said John Sydnor, executive director for the Enrichmond Foundation. “Trees are a way we can enhance parks and beautify the city.”

The Foundation is working with Dominion, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, The Richmond Tree Stewards, and the Fan Women’s Club as well as the City’s Department of Urban Forestry to grow trees right here in the city that will then be planted in area parks and open spaces.

Read the full article: “Urban trees a blessing that requires work,” Richmond Dispatch

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