A Tree for Everyone: One Million Trees Initiative Year 2 Progress Report

One Tree per Person

We added two new cities to the One Million Tree Initiative in Year 2: the City of Norcross and the City of South Fulton. Along with the ten founding Partner Cities, the combined population of these 12 cities is 985,836 residents, approximately one million people .

In other words, our goal is the equivalent to one tree for every resident.

The entire metro Atlanta region is growing. A recent report from the Atlanta Regional Commission indicates the population of the region has reached 5.1 million. The urgency of protecting and growing the tree canopy in urban areas parallels population growth: trees are needed where people are. We strongly advocate for well-designed  strategies for urban forest conservation, plans for maximizing the number of trees saved during construction, and the inclusion of more new trees as part of every city’s growth plan.


Year 2 Progress Report

During the One Million Trees Initiative’s first two years, we and our partners have planted or conserved 79,893 trees. The program needs to average 100,000 trees planted or conserved each year to reach our 10-year target; our current annual average is 38,013, indicating we have work to do.

Although the gap from 79,893 to 1,000,000 may seem daunting — it is still urgent to do so. The cities that one million residents call home, and where millions of visitors come to each year, must find the means and will to plant or conserve one tree per person in a ten year time frame. We can certainly start.

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

Photos (above L-R) from Year 2 planting projects in Sandy Springs, Decaur, College Park, and Brookhaven.


In Year 2, the One Million Trees Initiative partners planted and conserved 10,189 trees. 

  • Year 2 trees planted: 10,114
    ~ 7% improvement year-over-year
    ~ Six of the ten founding Partner Cities increased trees planted in Year 2
  • Year 2 trees conserved: 256 (Sandy Springs)
  • Two new Partner Cities added
    ~ City of Norcross
    ~ City of South Fulton
  • Certified as Tree City USA in 2021: 8 Partner Cities
  • Front Yard Trees planted in Partner Cities: 1,584

Trees Atlanta collaborated with the Partner Cities to plant 7,806 trees, and the cities reported an additional 578 trees planted with their own city staff, other partners, or contracts. In Year 2, Trees Atlanta also planted 587 trees in other metro Atlanta cities and an additional 962 trees were sold by Trees Atlanta and Georgia Audubon at local native plant and tree sales.


One Million Tree Initiative Year 2 Progress Report - Graph of trees planted per square mile and per 1000 population


Saving Existing Trees with Permanent Conservation

Without significant acquisitions, such as the Lake Charlotte purchase in Atlanta in Year 1 with 60,000 trees conserved, the rate of canopy growth and protection is greatly limited. There are several possible conservation acquisitions among Partner Cities in the works that we hope to see finalized in the near future.

  • We encourage City Partners to identify potential land for permanent protection along with implementing stronger regulations for the preservation of existing trees during construction.
  • Sandy Springs was the only Partner City to report a finalized conservation initiative in Year 2 with 256 trees protected on newly acquired property adjoining the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area.
  • Doraville increased its investment in new trees planted to 21 trees planted per 1,000 residents in Year 2, doubling its rate of 10.8 in Year 1, and leading all Partner Cities.
  • Decatur had the highest number of trees planted per square mile, followed by Doraville and Atlanta.
  • Brookhaven and Decatur passed updated Tree Ordinances this year, while Atlanta’s rewrite process continues.


One Million Tree Initiative Year 1 Progress Report - Chart of Year 2 Consolidated City Datated and conserved


City Highlights from Year 2

  • Atlanta: 1,163 more trees planted (25% increase) over Year 1, with significant plantings in Atlanta Memorial Park and in the Atlanta BeltLine Southside Trail Arboretum.
  • Brookhaven: Planting sites were concentrated in Silver Lake and Lenox Park, and residents fully claimed its tree inventory through their Front Yard Tree partnership with Trees Atlanta. Brookhaven became a Tree City USA, and the city also approved a new tree protection ordinance.
  • College Park: A tree planting program was started with 55 trees planted, including at Tracey Wyatt Recreation Center where new trees will create a half acre of new canopy.
  • Decatur: This small city of 4.5 square miles continues to top the ranking for number of trees planted per square mile by adding 98.2 trees per square mile in Year 2. As part of our ongoing work to restore the forested areas of Legacy Park, we planted 111 trees in the park. The city approved an updated Tree Protection Ordinance in Year 2.
  • Doraville: Doraville reported the highest trees per capita at 22.9 trees planted per thousand residents, more than doubling their Year 1 rate. Canopy and fruit trees were planted in Autumn Park, Honeysuckle Park, the Doraville Unity Garden, and in front yards.
  • Dunwoody: Most of its trees were planted in Brook Run Park, a 110-acre greenspace where Trees Atlanta has been working with the city over the last decade to replace trees as new recreation amenities have been added.
  • Sandy Springs: Planting 722 trees, Sandy Springs increased new trees by 84% over Year 1. Sites included Hammond Park, Allen Park, Roswell Rd, and Glenridge Dr. The 256 trees conserved by Sandy Springs are the only trees reported for conservation in Year 2 among Partner Cities; it is the only city to report conserved trees both in Year 1 and Year 2.
  • Smyrna: Planting 372 new trees, Smyrna tripled their Year 1 number. Keep Smyrna Beautiful celebrated a bountiful Georgia Arbor Day by planting 250 dogwood seedlings in King Valley.


One Million Tree Initiative Year 2 Progress Report - Change in trees planted year over year


Next Steps

  • Review each Partner City’s current and future canopy goals, including conservation strategies and Yard Tree Programs.
  • Review progress to achieve or retain Tree City USA certification.
  • Implement “influence trees” to engage tree nurseries, individuals, and Nonprofit Partners to further increase awareness of the One Million Tree Initiative and its goals.

Trees Atlanta and all our Partner Cities and Nonprofit Partners can collaborate to accelerate our efforts. We are exploring new ideas, such as partnering with local tree nurseries and retailers to highlight the One Million Trees Initiative by promoting and selling native and canopy trees which will be counted toward the program goal. Called ‘influence trees”, trees purchased and planted by individual residents are currently not accounted for and can help amplify the goals of the program.

The entire metro area benefits when trees are added within the region, and we will continue looking to partner with cities and counties interested in joining the One Million Trees Initiative to improve
quality of life for their citizens and visitors.

The One Million Tree Initiative is a structure to measure progress, motivate productive conversations about the value of trees in urban settings, and accelerate action. We will look to build off our early successes in Year 3 and beyond.

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. Partner Cities and Nonproft 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 City 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. 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 Nonprofit Partners of the One Million Tree Initiative 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: or contact

Posted on: July 20, 2022


Photo credit: Central Atlanta Progress