Tampa unveils strategy to plant 30,000 trees by 2030

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Florida Construction News staff writer

The City of Tampa has set a goal of planting 30,000 new trees by 2030.

“I am enlisting everyone – city government, individuals, businesses, neighborhood groups for this crucial mission, because Tampa’s tree canopy needs help,” said Mayor Jane Castor. “We need to act quickly and decisively to replenish our invaluable urban forest, which has decreased over the past decade.

“Our ambitious multi-part roadmap includes the planting of trees on both private property and in public spaces.”

The announcement comes as a new, thorough assessment of Tampa’s citywide tree canopy coverage dropped by 2.3 percent since 2016. The report found canopy coverage of 30 percent of the city’s total land area, its lowest point in 26 years. Tampa has been a nationally recognized ‘tree city’ for 41 years, and its tree ordinance requires an assessment of the tree canopy and urban forest every five years, with today’s results reflecting data collected in 2021.

The new strategy includes:

  • Expand the city’s Tree-mendous Tampa program to allow people to receive up to five free trees, up from two.
  • Better utilize the city’s tree trust funds and work with the city council to put more resources into maintaining the existing tree canopy.
  • Enlist front line workers in stormwater, mobility, water and other city departments to identify key opportunities for trees and to make planting trees a higher priority.
  • Aggressively enforce existing laws and maximize fines for illegal tree destruction where appropriate.
  • Launch a new voucher program to encourage and help people buy trees from local nurseries.
  • Support quarterly neighborhood-based tree planting projects.
  • Implement a Neighborhood Tree Stewardship program to educate residents on tree care and the urban forest

The 30,000 new trees will be a mix of shade, native, and specialty trees, and that maintaining and keeping healthy the existing canopy is as important as planting new trees.

“The value of trees in Tampa is almost immeasurable – the benefits for shade, flood prevention, water quality, air, and aesthetics – all make trees a critical city asset,” said Whit Remer, sustainability & resiliency officer. “While there is no one reason for the canopy decrease, new state laws restricting the ability to regulate trees on private property, development, and the age of canopy all played a part of the decline.

“It’s our job to mitigate these losses in every manner possible”

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