Restoration of our Urban Forest
We are lucky to have so many acres of forest in Atlanta, but our forests deal with a lot of stress. They have been broken apart, dumped in, and had their rich soils eroded away or compacted. Invasive plants take full advantage of this stress and disturbance. They play by different rules than our natives who have evolved here for thousands of years. Invasive species are eaten less often by wildlife, they grow faster, rob our plants of sunlight and other nutrients, can physically cover or pull down trees, and reduce the chance of rebounding for the next generation of trees. Ultimately, all of these factors take a toll on the biodiversity of our forests.
Invasive plants spread to our public areas from private properties and abandoned lots. The majority of the invasive plants we remove in Atlanta are planted as landscape plants. You may be planting some of these plants in your yard without even knowing it! Some municipalities and states have passed regulations prohibiting the buying/selling/trading of species that are deemed extremely invasive, but we have no such regulations in Atlanta. Plants don’t respect property lines, so letting these plants grow will allow them to aggressively spread across your yard, your neighbor’s yard, and all around the city.
Trees Atlanta’s restoration teams work in Atlanta’s greenspaces everyday to remove invasive plants, give our native plants room to grow and recover, and replant areas that were completely taken over by these species. We do this with the help of our amazing volunteers and communities organizing to help us save our forests. This past year, we clocked in over 8,000 volunteer hours and planted almost 3,000 native trees and shrubs through forest restoration efforts alone!
Increasing the diversity of native plants in our yards and greenspaces makes them more resilient. It’s up to all of us to know what is growing around us and work together to protect our forests. Check out our list of the top invasive plants in Atlanta, and see if you recognize any of them. And you will know what to avoid next time you are looking to plant in your own yard!