Posted by Ben Gooden on Wed, Apr 03, 2019 @ 2:12 AM
Tallahassee boasts one the highest tree canopy coverages in the U.S. At 55% coverage, Tallahassee’s tree canopy is iconic – and now it will be managed properly under a new Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP).
The UFMP was commissioned in March 2017, six months after Hurricane Hermine highlighted some challenges related to Tallahassee’s tree canopy. During the plan’s development, Hurricane Michael caused further damage to the city, reinforcing the need for a management plan for in the interests of public safety.
Approved in December 2018, the UFMP is a long-term plan of action for proactive and effective urban forest management. As well as ensuring that Tallahassee’s urban forest improves in quality over time, the plan will support the City’s needs relating to storm hardening, infrastructure and growth.
Large, vibrant trees make Tallahassee a unique community to live in and visit. When managed properly, the trees will enhance the sense of plan, plus add economic and social value to the city. Importantly, they will also have a positive impact on infrastructure and safety, rather than causing unnecessary costs.
With limited information existing on the state of Tallahassee’s urban forest, the development of the plan required extensive and detailed research. It included an analysis of urban forest distribution and composition, a review of tree management policies and procedures, plus vital public feedback.
While measurable change will take time, the 20-year plan provides recommendations that can implemented gradually to achieve three overarching goals:
Goal 1: Improve Canopy Quality
While the species diversity of Tallahassee’s urban forest is good, there’s a high proportion of weak, wooded trees – around 38% in total. These trees simply don’t live long. Plus, once they achieve mature size, they decline due to structural issues and decay. The UFMP aims to improve the quality and longevity of the urban forest by completing a public tree inventory and emphasising the correct mix, planting and placement of trees.
Goal 2: Maintain Canopy Levels
Even with high populations of less desirable species, Tallahassee’s dense tree canopy is still a major asset. The City will continue to prioritize maintaining a high level of canopy, while also focusing on “re-composition”.
Goal 3: Engage the Community
With 70% of Tallahassee’s tree canopy located on private property, the City is counting on citizens, community groups and stakeholders to work together to achieve common goals.
For more information on Tallahassee’s UFMP, visit: www.talgov.com/tallytrees