AWARD WINNING: Tallahassee’s “Growing with Trees” urban forest master plan was awarded the 2020 APA Florida Award of Merit in the Grassroots Initiative category.
The Challenge. The City of Tallahassee, Florida is dedicated to promoting and preserving the natural environment by caring for the urban forest and improving the management of public trees. However, exponential growth over the last decades, combined with a warming climate and efforts to densify population within the city core to slow urban sprawl have put tremendous pressures on the City’s urban forest.
The Project: To address the immediate and future needs of the urban forest, Tallahassee committed to developing a long-term urban forest strategic plan, “Growing With Trees.” This initiative gave the City a better understanding of its urban forest, its challenges and opportunities, the expectations of the community, and the actions needed to make positive changes in the quality and function of the urban forest. UCW staff began the project as employees of Davey Resource Group, Inc., and then completed it through their own consulting firm.
During the project, existing data, city codes and policies were analyzed, the tree canopy assessment was updated, input from the public was collected through public in-person meetings and a community survey. In addition, a group of stakeholders was engaged through monthly meetings and one-on-one interviews. From this work, a number of findings emerged that steered the long-term plan in significant ways.
These included the need to:
balance growth in the rapidly developing urban core with preserving an iconic and historic tree canopy,
address a significant amount of low quality tree canopy (one with many invasive and short-lived species) while dealing with negative public sentiment around the loss of trees, and
improve tree protection systems in place through ordinance and development code updates.
Ultimately, the plan is a roadmap guiding the City forward to a more sustainable urban forest, that includes detailed and prioritized strategic recommendations and describes required resources needed for successful implementation.