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Influencing a Change: One Million Trees Initiative Year 3 Progress Report

The One Million Tree Initiative tree count to date is 114,896 trees toward its 1,000,000 trees goal.

In our third year, we added DeKalb County. As our first county, the count of trees reported by DeKalb County includes trees planted and conserved in its unincorporated areas and places not represented by other OMTI cities.

Also new for Year 3 is a new category of trees that count trees planted by individuals in the places represented by our Metro Partners. We’re calling this new category of trees “Influenced” trees.

The impact of many individuals who purchase and plant one or more trees in their properties is accounted for with this category. People have a variety of motivations for planting new trees on their own, but we did not have an effective way to count this individual action. With the partnership of local retailers and a new tool to take self-reported actions, these Influenced trees will contribute to the total count.

There are three methods for collecting the count of Influenced trees, including:

  • Nonprofits that distribute trees directly to individuals to plant (e.g., Trees Atlanta Annual Tree Sale, Georgia Audubon Native Plant Sale, Georgia Arbor Day tree giveaway, etc.).
  • Local tree nurseries who agree to promote and report the sales of trees in their stores located in one of the Metro Partner municipalities. Only native tree species sold are counted.
  • Individuals will also be encouraged to report trees they plant on their own using an online reporting form found on the OMTI program page: www.treesatlanta.org/onemilliontrees .

 

 

Local Nurseries Promoting and Selling Native Tree Species

Local retailers Pike Nurseries (Toco Hills, Buckhead, and Lindbergh stores) and Garden*Hood (Atlanta) joined the initiative as a Community Partner. These retailers are promoting and counting the sale of native species trees from their stores that are located in the OMTI footprint.

 

Scroll to read the full report or click here to download a summary PDF of the data.

Year 3 Progress Report

Together 35,057 trees were reported among our Metro and Community Partners. A significant number (13,550) were reported for Influnced trees that were planted by individuals within the 13 municipalities represented by our Metro Partners.

  • Year 3 total trees: 35,057
  • Planted: 8,705
  • Conserved: 12,802
  • Influenced: 13,550

Tree Conservation Has the Biggest Impact

In Year 3, five of the Metro Partners reported conserved trees – the highest number of partners to date. Most trees conserved were reported were from Dunwoody, Atlanta, and Decatur. Along with Sandy Springs and Smyrna, these five cities conserved more trees in Year 3 than total trees planted by all Metro Partners.

During the first 3 years of the initiative, the majority (73,248, or 63.8%) of all OMTI trees were reported as trees conserved.

Conservation remains the most powerful strategy for preserving trees in growing cities. A count of trees does not fully account for the importance and impact of mature trees versus newly planted trees. Conserved trees also leave more undisturbed soils and related ecological benefits.

 

Engagement and Intention are Key to Progress

All Metro Partners reported trees planted, conserved, or influenced in their municipalities. Among these partners:

  • 5 of 13 Metro Partners reported conserved trees
  • 8 Metro Partners funded the planting of Front Yard trees for residents
  • 9 Metro Partner cities recertified as 2022 Tree City USA

 

Notes on table above: (1) “With TA” are trees planted by Trees Atlanta with or without city funding. (2) “Without TA” are other planted trees in each city reported by a Metro or Community Partner. (3) Unicorporated DeKalb County metrics represent county minus OMTI cities in DeKalb County. (4) “Other Trees” include trees planted by Trees Atlanta or a OMTI Community Partner in other metro Atlanta areas. (5) “Influenced Trees” are trees distributed in community giveaways, such as Georgia Arbor Day seedling giveaway, or sold by a nonprofit or retail organization within an OMTI Metro Partner municipality. In previous reports, giveaway and sold trees were counted as “Other Trees”.

Photos (L-R): City of Hapeville tree planting in Cofield Park; City of Decatur tree planting on Snapfinger Road; Trees sold directly to individual count as “Influenced” trees as of Year 3; City of Atlanta tree planting project at Pullman Yards for Plantlanta 2022.

Partner Highlights from Year 3

To better reflect the inclusion of a county partner along with our existing city partners in the One Million Trees Initiative, we renamed “City Partners” to “Metro Partners”. Our “Nonprofit Partners” are now joined by local nursery partners as “Community Partners”.

  • Atlanta: The City of Atlanta acquired several forested spaces in Year 3, conserving 10,680 trees. The Chattahoochee Brick Company site and Lower Paul Park in northwest Atlanta were acquired by the city improving public access to the Chattahoochee River. Another 180-acre parcel in southwest Atlanta near Camp Creek Parkway was purchased using money from Atlanta’s  Tree Trust Fund, which is funded by recompense fees paid when removal of healthy trees are necessary.
  • Brookhaven: The City of Brookhaven has established a nursery at Osborne Park to cultivate indigenous trees, which will ultimately be given to Brookhaven residents and developers at no cost to preserve Brookhaven’s tree canopy. The half-acre at the new Osborne Nursery will have the capacity for almost 250 trees. Trees Atlanta’s Forest Restoration team completed 180 hours of invasive plant removal at Children’s Hospital in Brookhaven to reduce threats to tree canopy survival and health of existing trees.
  • Decatur: The City of Decatur has consistently topped the list of Metro Partners to plant and conserve trees. In Year 3, they reported trees in each of the three categories of the initiative: 309 planted, 190 conserved, and 200 influenced through tree giveaways sponsored by the city.
  • Doraville: In addition to participating in the Yard Tree Program, the City of Doraville has invested in forest restoration in Autumn Park to remove invasive plant species that can threaten tree health.
  • Dunwoody: With 1,766 trees planted and conserved, the City of Dunwoody leads the Metro Partners in the number of trees per land size (132.8 trees per square miles) and population (35.7 trees per 1,000 persons).
  • Garden*Hood: Garden*Hood is a locally owned small business located in the City of Atlanta that specialize in a large selection of native plants. They report 46 native species trees sold and counted as an “Influenced” tree.
  • Georgia Audubon: This Community Partner influences the planting of trees and native plants through their fundraising sales. Georgia Audubon leads regular habitat restoration projects in our urban forests that benefit birds and other wildlife and people.
  • Norcross: The City of Norcross was awarded the Outstanding Urban Arboriculture Grand Award for Tree Canopy Management and Development by the Georgia Tree Council for outstanding service toward the preservation and enhancement of our urban forests.
  • Pike Nurseries: This local business became our first tree retailer to join the One Million Tree Initiative. They have agreed to promote the benefits of planting trees and will report annual sales of native tree species at the Toco Hills, Buckhead, and Lindbergh locations. These stores are located in one of the Metro Partner municipalities. For Year 3, Pike Nurseries repored 11,942 trees sold (and presumed planted).
  • Unicorporated DeKalb County: DeKalb County joined the One Million Tree Initiative representing the unicorporated areas of DeKalb County and report 754 trees planted. Trees Atlanta has been collaborated with the county for many years and welcome them to this collaboration.
  • WABE: Through their annual membership drive “Trees Atlanta Day” WABE has funded the planting of 305 young trees in forest restoration projects in Year 3.

Photos (L-R): 180 acres conserved near Camp Creek Parkway in Atlanta, photo courtesy of Stacy Funderburke; Georgia Audubon Sanctuary Tour Property, photo courtesy of Georgia Audubon; Georgia Arbor Day seedling giveaway at Trees Atlanta.

Individual who have planted a tree in their properties located within any of the Metro Partner municipalities are encouraged to report their trees using the form below. Any trees that are planted by or from trees provided by Trees Atlanta, including Yard Tree Program trees or trees received at various giveaways, should NOT be reported as an Influenced trees.

What’s the goal of the One Million Trees Initiative?

We need trees where people live. In the United States, approximately 80% of the population live in urban areas – which include both downtown areas and residential neighborhoods found across metro Atlanta. As populations increase in cities, the need for more urban trees actually increases at the same time market forces threaten their removal. The One Million Trees Initiative is designed to bring attention to conserving our existing trees and increasing the rate of tree planting in metro Atlanta communities.

The One Million Trees Initiative was publicly launched on February 20, 2020 with the goal of planting and conserving one million trees in metro Atlanta by 2030. The initiative is lead by Trees Atlanta and is a collaboration of metro Atlanta area cities and conservation nonprofits that work locally on environmental and sustainability issues.

Trees are counted as newly planted and trees that are protected through conservation status, typically through city purchase of land that is designated for permanent conservation. Trees that are planted by individuals are counted as “influenced trees” effective Year 3. Metro and Community Partners agree to engage their communities to increase awareness for the benefits of trees and foster the growth of tree canopy across metro Atlanta.

The Metro Partners of the One Million Tree Initiative are: Atlanta, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, East Point, Hapeville, Norcross, Sandy Springs, Smyrna, City of South Fulton, and Unincorporated DeKalb County. To join the One Million Tree Initiative, each City Partner formally approved participation with a City Council vote or by signature of the Mayor or City Manager. What is significant about this is that elected officials are affirming that their constituents want to prioritize and bring attention to the importance of trees in their cities.

The Community Partners of the One Million Tree Initiative are: Atlanta Botanical Garden, Garden*Hood, Georgia Audubon, Georgia Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, Pike Nurseries, The Trust for Public Land, Trees Atlanta, WABE 90.1 NPR, and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance.

 

For more program information, view: treesatlanta.org/onemilliontrees or contact judy@treesatlanta.org

Posted on: Dec. 5, 2023