One Million Trees for Metro Atlanta by 2030
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 being lead by Trees Atlanta and in its first year we have partnered with ten metro Atlanta cities and nine other conservation nonprofits that work locally on environmental and sustainability issues. Additional cities have joined the initiative in Year 2, and we welcome others to come aboard.
This is a progress report for Year 1. To date, 67,386 trees have been planted or conserved throughout the ten metro Partner Cities.
In Year 1, we began organizing the project with the support of our Nonprofit Partners and the City of Atlanta as our first Partner City to join the One Million Trees Initiative. Our shared goal was to create a partnership of ten City Partners, who along with the ten Nonprofit Partners, would share a commitment to plant and conserve one million trees in ten years. This would be an ambitious goal by any measure, and we knew we’d need to work creatively and collaboratively to reach our goals.
Keep Moving Forward
As many things in 2020 would go, within days of launching, well-laid plans got waylaid.
By mid-March 2020, Atlanta along with the rest of the world began responding to a global pandemic. Trees Atlanta quickly set about finding new ways to keep moving forward in the midst of growing uncertainty. Despite the ever changing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we kept focused on our mission and went to work, and so did our partners.
Trees Atlanta put new safety protocols in place so that we could continue our work outdoors to plant and conserve trees. Those who could, began working at home, particularly to rapidly convert our programs to virtual formats so that we could continue outreach and educate communities across metro Atlanta. During the first Spring and Summer of the pandemic, the value of the outdoors and nature became strikingly apparent, including the importance of being near urban trees. Nature in cities, in places where we live, increases our resiliency and creates a better environment for our health and wellbeing.
Many of us found ourselves feeling safer out in nature and felt an even greater urgency to protect nature in return.
As various businesses, organizations, and public offices found new ways to continue operations in 2020, our second City Partner, the City of Hapeville, confirmed their participation in the One Million Trees Initiative. Then the City of Sandy Springs joined, and before the end of Year 1, even as cities across Georgia had more work to do than ever, our ten founding City Partners and ten Nonprofit Partners took leadership in affirming their commitment to trees. Although our inaugural year was like no other, it challenges us to accelerate our work in Year 2 and beyond.
Year 1 Progress Report
This progress report provides a count of trees planted and conserved within the city boundaries of the founding ten City Partners, along with some of their notable accomplishments. (Click here to download Year 1 Progress Report PDF.)
The founding City Partners of the One Million Tree Initiative are: Atlanta, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna. 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.
In Year 1, the One Million Trees Initiative partners planted and conserved 69,650 trees. The table below shows metrics for each of the Partner Cities and Trees Atlanta.
- 9,460 new trees planted
- 60,190 trees protected through land conservation
- Total trees to date is 7.0% of one million tree goal
The ten Partner Cities directly lead the planting and conservation of 67,386 trees in Year 1. Trees Atlanta partnered with the Partner Cities to plant 5,579 of those trees, and the cities reported an additional 1,617 trees planted with other partners or contracts. In Year 1, Trees Atlanta also planted, funded, or sold 2,264 more trees in other metro Atlanta areas, including trees sold at Trees Atlanta tree and plant sales in 2020.
- Notably in 2020, the City of Atlanta purchased 216 acres of forested land in south Atlanta that is known as Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve. This land acquisition accounts for an estimated 60,000 trees that are now within a protected conservation area that is preserved for passive recreational use. (In 2014, the City of Atlanta modified its Tree Protection Ordinance to allow the use of the “Tree Trust Fund” for the purchase and protection of forested land. This was the first time land was acquired by the city using tree recompense funding.)
- The City of Sandy Springs was the only other city reporting having placed trees into conservation in Year 1.
- Based on the total land area of each Partner City, the City of Decatur had the highest ratio of trees planted per square mile. Decatur is a city with 4.5 square miles of land, and they planted 337 trees in Year 1 which is 75.7 trees per square mile. The City of Dunwoody had the second highest ratio of trees planted per square mile at 59.5. The City of Atlanta is the largest city in the partnership by far with 136.8 square miles of land, and this partner planted a total of 4,911 trees, or 35.9 trees per square mile.
- Each city also has a wide range of population living within its boundaries. The investment per 1,000 persons in the city was topped by Dunwoody at 15.8 trees per thousand people, followed by 10.8 trees per thousand in the City of Doraville, and 10.4 in the City of Hapeville.
- Seven of the ten Partner Cities were certified or renewed their certification as a Tree City USA which means the city has successfully met the requirements established by the National Arbor Day Foundation that includes issuing an Arbor Day Proclamation and conducting education programming on the importance of trees, establishing a tree board, and meeting the minimum funding for trees in their city budgets. We hope to help all of our Partner Cities to become a Tree City USA and continue renewing their certification each year.
Next Steps in Year 2 and Beyond
- Discuss each city’s tree planting and conservation strategies for 2021 –2030
- Establish new tree projects for the 2021-22 planting season, e.g., Front Yard Program
- Explore possible tree conservation areas in each city
- Prepare for data reporting needs and process to ease 2021 data reporting
- Plan for Year 2 tasks: Tree City USA (re)certification for all partners and Georgia Arbor Day programs
In addition, two more cities have completed the process to join the One Million Trees Initiative in Year 2. We welcome these new Partner Cities to the One Million Trees Initiative:
- City of South Fulton
- City of Norcross
The ten Nonprofit Partners are: Atlanta Botanical Garden, Georgia Audubon, Georgia Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on: November 19, 2021