Guest article by Audrey Pruitt, Trees Atlanta
The One Million Trees Initiative is the first of its kind in the United States to connect diverse communities and approaches that protect and improve the urban forest. Led by Trees Atlanta, this initiative is an innovative collaboration of 10 metro Atlanta cities and 10 Atlanta-based nonprofits, working together to combat local climate change and environmental stresses from urban growth.
The impacts of climate change are amplified in urban areas where rapidly growing populations and competing demands for land use intersect. The City of Atlanta is forecasted to more than double in population by 2050, and the same trend is predicted for the entire metro Atlanta region. As more people move into urban areas, demands on metro Atlanta's infrastructure grows. Investing in the natural infrastructure of trees can have high returns on investment and provide many short- and long-term benefits to people.
According to Matt Westmoreland, Post 2 At-Large member of the Atlanta City Council, “One million new trees in metro Atlanta would capture 1.4 billion gallons of water and 530,000 gallons of CO2 every year— reducing stormwater runoff, improving water quality, reducing rates of asthma and heat-related illnesses, and improving air quality.” This bold collaboration demonstrates how local action can make immediate impact. Connie Veates, Co-Executive Director of Trees Atlanta said, “The benefits of trees for the health and wellbeing of people and the urban ecology of metro Atlanta is abundant. Trees Atlanta is proud to be able to coordinate and lead this effort with our amazing nonprofit and municipal partners.”
The first city partner to officially join the One Million Tree Initiative is the City of Atlanta. The Atlanta City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Monday, February 17 supporting the collaborative effort. The first ten metro Atlanta cities to formally commit to joining the initiative are currently being finalized. Greg Levine, Co-Executive Director of Trees Atlanta added, “We’ve been amazed at the level of interest from cities and other municipalities who have reached out to us since we announced the One Million Trees Initiative. We are definitely excited about the possibility of expanding the partnerships beyond ten cities.”
The one million trees will include trees planted in city land and public projects, preserved in forested areas, and installed by individuals on private property, including residential yards and businesses. The One Million Trees Initiative will be completed within ten years.
The initial nonprofit partners committed to the One Million Trees Initiative are Atlanta Audubon, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Georgia Conservancy, Park Pride, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, WABE, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and Trees Atlanta.
About Trees Atlanta: Founded in 1985, Trees Atlanta works tirelessly to address Atlanta’s tree loss, protect its forests, and create new green space. Trees Atlanta is a nationally recognized nonprofit citizens' group that protects and improves Atlanta’s urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating. www.treesatlanta.org
About Atlanta Audubon: Atlanta Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.