Philadelphia’s urban forest is dwindling fast, with the city losing an alarming equivalent of 1000 football fields worth of leafy shade in the last 10 years. Recognising this concerning trend, the city has launched a 10-Year Urban Forest Plan, kicking off with a ‘Tree Summit’ at the Discovery Centre in East Fairmount Park. The summit will bring together arborists, educators and community leaders organised by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Office of Sustainability.

The announcement comes on the heels of a decade-long look at how the tree canopy — a measurement of the layers of leaves, branches, and stems trees provide — fared from 2008 to 2018. Overall, the report found that the city gained 1,980 acres of tree canopy in the 10 years studied, but also lost 3,075 acres. Much of the loss came from the removal of trees that line streets. Tree canopy now covers only about 20% of land within the city, the report states. The goal is to increase that to 30%.

“We’re trying to target areas that have the most need for trees and are the most vulnerable,” said Erica Smith-Fichman, Philadelphia’s Community Forestry Manager. Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement, “The launch of the Future of the Urban Forest planning process is an opportunity to accelerate efforts from across Philadelphia to protect our tree canopy and improve quality of life and health outcomes for residents.”


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Skyline of Philadelphia, PA, USA