From seedlings, a forest can grow – the path to a vibrant tree canopy for Atlanta.
Living in an urban forest comes with many advantages. In addition to their aesthetic value, trees improve air quality, help to conserve energy through cooling, reduce stormwater runoff, mitigate noise pollution, and provide shelter for wildlife. Studies have highlighted the link between trees and greenspace and physical and mental well-being. Urban nature has a calming effect on us while also encouraging learning, inquisitiveness, and mental alertness. The presence of trees helps to enhance our community and increase property values.
Recognizing the positive impact of trees on the community, a group of citizens joined together with the Junior League of Atlanta, Central Atlanta Progress, and the Commissioner of Parks to create Trees Atlanta in 1985 to address the lack of greenspace in the heart of downtown Atlanta.
As the years passed, the desire for more trees and greenspace beyond downtown was a catalyst for Trees Atlanta to branch out and collaborate with neighborhood groups. Trees Atlanta began to plant trees with volunteers, educate citizens on the importance of trees, and engage the community in conserving Atlanta’s tree canopy. Since the first 46 trees planted on Carnegie Way in 1986, Trees Atlanta has partnered with community members, businesses, and organizations to conserve and expand the urban forest in which we live.
To date, Trees Atlanta has planted and cared for over 150,000 trees in metro Atlanta.
Trees Atlanta is a nonprofit community group that protects and improves Atlanta’s urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating.
Since its beginnings, Trees Atlanta’s goals have been to plant new trees, conserve existing trees, and educate the public on the many benefits of trees. Trees Atlanta has become one of the most widely-known and respected nonprofits locally, as well as nationally, for their work as stewards of our urban environment.
Archive photos: Ceremonial first planting in downtown (original caption, as printed in the 1986 edition of Treebune), “Bob Wagner, President of Trees Atlanta [Board of Directors], Chester J. Funnye, Commissioner of Public Works, Betsy C. Baker, Commissioner of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affirs, and Dan Sweat, President of Central Atlanta Progress, Inc., demonstrate the effectiveness of the public/private partnership at Trees Atlanta’s planting of the first 46 new trees for downtown Atlanta. The greening of downtown has begun!”; Avondale Estates – December 14, 1996; original Trees Atlanta logo hangs on a work truck.
Trees Atlanta Milestones: Through the Years
- 1985: Trees Atlanta is founded, hires first Executive Director, Marcia Bansley
- 1986: First 46 trees are planted in downtown Atlanta on Carnegie Way
- 1990: Trees Atlanta’s volunteer program begins
- 1992: Kick-off for multi-million dollar Olympic Downtown Improvement Project
- 1996: 318 trees are planted in and around Centennial Olympic Park
- 1999: Trees Atlanta helps save Morningside Nature Preserve
- 2000: Trees Atlanta helps save Connally Nature Park
- 2002: “Dreamers Park” created next to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, supported by The Kendeda Fund
- 2002: Volunteer Program officially renamed “NeighborWoods”
- 2003: Forest Restoration Program launches
- 2005: Neighborhood Arboretum Program launches
- 2007: Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Concept Plan developed
- 2008: New headquarters opens at the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center; Education program launches; volunteers plant first tree on the Atlanta BeltLine
- 2009: LEED Platinum Certification received for the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center
- 2010: Trees Atlanta celebrates its 25th anniversary; 75,000 trees planted to date
- 2011: Marcia Bansley retired after 26 years of leadership; Connie Veates and Greg Levine are named Co-Executive Directors of Trees Atlanta
- 2012: Planting of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum begins on the Eastside Trail
- 2013: Launches new summer camp program
- 2014: Trees Atlanta plants its 100,000th tree (a white oak) at Piedmont Park; Hosts the 1st Annual Root Ball to celebrate
- 2015: The TreeHouse, education branch of Trees Atlanta, a temporary expansion office opens in Old Fourth Ward
- 2016: Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum plant begins on the Westside Trail; the Arboretum is awarded a Level II Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program
- 2017: Trees Atlanta wins the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s 33rd annual Managing for Excellence Award
- 2018: Unveiled a new logo and tagline- our first logo change in 30+ year history; partnered with the City of Atlanta to launch the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill, the largest food forest in the country
- 2020: Launches the One Million Trees Initiative – a collaboration of ten local nonprofits and ten metro Atlanta cities to plant and conserve 1,000,000 trees in ten years.
- 2023: Moves into Kendeda TreeHouse, Trees Atlanta’s new headquarters in Oakland City in southwest Atlanta. Half of the property is landscaped with 100% native plants and over 200 new trees, expanding outdoor learning opportunities as well as indoor program spaces.
- 2023: Connie Veates caps 12 years as Co-Executive Director leaving a significant legacy of grow; Greg Levine named Executive Director.