Columbus Hopes to Plant 20,000 New Trees in April, 300,000 by 2020

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Columbus Hopes to Plant 20,000 New Trees in April, 300,000 by 2020Photo by Walker Evans.
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Spring is finally here, and Columbus can now start on the city’s Branch Out Program’s goal of planting 300,000 trees by the year 2020.

The Branch Out program, introduced by Green Columbus, had a waiting season after its launch last September. As the days get longer, Columbusites will soon have an opportunity to participate in the program and help to grow the city’s canopy.

The initiative was developed in response to a report revealing the sparseness of the urban tree canopy after the Emerald Ash Borer wiped out a sizable portion of the city’s Ash forests. Combined with damage from the Asian Long-horned Beetle the report says Columbus can expect to lose 200,000 trees.

Starting April 1 the Green Spot Backyards program will be offering $100 rebates on native tree purchases for eligible residents. Using that incentive and by generating excitement around Earth Day, Erin Miller, Environmental Steward for Columbus, said 20,000 trees will be planted.

Earth Day Columbus is partnering with Green Columbus to help achieve this lofty goals, and there are a few ways for people to get involved. Anyone can contribute to the cause by simply registering the trees they plant on their own. In coordination with Earth Day, people can donate one of the trees that will be planted, volunteer to plant, or host their own service site.

These steps toward increasing the urban tree canopy will help to address the city’s main concerns with conserving energy, stormwater reduction and mitigating the urban heat island. When there is a severe lack of trees in urban areas there is no shade keeping the ground cool. The radiating heat is bad for the environment and unhealthy for people. This effect, called the urban heat island, is disproportionately affecting lower income neighborhoods.

Trees provide a reduction in energy use in the summer by providing shade and in the winter by reducing wind. They can also be integrated to help manage stormwater, specifically when targeting impervious surfaces, like sidewalks, parking lots and roads.

The report says the main goal for the city should be to increase its canopy from its current 22 percent cover to 27 percent. For more information on how to get involved in Earth Day efforts or how to register a tree, visit www.earthdaycolumbus.org or www.columbus.gov/branch-out/.

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