A new tree canopy assessment released Wednesday by Metro says a greater emphasis on appropriate planting, species selection and maintenance is needed to create a vibrant urban forest in downtown Nashville.
The report, dubbed the Metro Tree Canopy Assessment Project, is a product of the Metro Beautification and Environment Commission and the Metro Tree Advisory Committee. The assessment is part of a new Tree Master Plan recommended by Mayor Karl Dean’s Green Ribbon Committee.
According to the report, there are 2,059 trees in downtown Nashville. The revised downtown tree inventory projects a potential annual savings for the city of $71,857 by reducing the cost of energy, carbon dioxide and storm water runoff, while increasing air quality and property values. The inventory found that the London plane tree is most abundant (13.8 percent of the inventory), followed by Japanese zelkova (8.1 percent); Willow Oak (7.5 percent); Sweetgum (7.2 percent); and Chinese Elm (5.9 percent).
“The suburban and rural areas of Davidson County are blessed with lush, green landscapes,” Dean said. “But this assessment affirms that we need to do more to increase the tree canopy in urban areas, specifically downtown, and along public rights of way. By knowing where trees are most needed, we can now focus tree planting efforts in the areas where they will have the greatest impact.”
A new online feature is to be added to Metro’s website to assist neighborhood groups, community organizations and individual citizens who want to plant, replace and maintain trees on public rights of way.
Conclusions from the assessment cite a need to focus on preserving Nashville’s tree canopy by promoting the importance of tree planting, species selection and pruning, and enforcement or strengthening of existing tree-related ordinances to maintain or increase urban tree canopy.
The assessment’s findings are to be part of the soon-to-be-unveiled tree planting and maintenance guidelines developed by the Metro Beautification and Environment Commission and Metro Public Works. The guidelines are billed as a way to promote and encourage being “good stewards of Nashville’s urban environment.”