9 Ways You Can Save a Tree
By Judy Yi, Director of Education, Trees Atlanta
Why not 10 ways? Why not save a whole forest? We offer 9 simple ways you can save a tree as a reminder that protecting our urban forest does not have to be a perfect or complex solution. It just takes you and me doing what we are able.
Plant a tree.
The majority (77%) of trees in Atlanta are located on single-family residential properties. Your trees are part of the urban forest. While Trees Atlanta NeighborWoods program focuses mainly on trees for public spaces, you can freely add trees to your landscape – plant a new tree this fall to offset aging or lost trees. We offer advice and a great selection at our annual fall Tree Sale in October. If you live in the City of Atlanta, Trees Atlanta also offers a Free Front Yard Tree program.
Learn the name of a tree.
We protect the things we love. We love the things we know. Every tree has a name: get to know the beautiful tree you pass each day. Our calendar of events includes many opportunities to learn more about tree identification, care, and science. Whether you plan to attend our 7-week TreeKeeper course or join an Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum walking tour, as you learn the names of trees and why we work hard to protect our canopy, your appreciation will grow even greater.
There are many nonprofit organizations that work to improve the quality and quantity of green space in Atlanta. Find one, and give your time and talents. Trees Atlanta has planted over 119,000 trees, and pruned, watered, and cared for countless more since its founding in 1985. This work is possible through the service of thousands of volunteers, some who have been coming weekly for years. We grow friendships and communities while working together to make Atlanta greener.
Make your vote count.
Over 300 citizens attended the Mayoral Candidate Forum on Greenspace hosted by Trees Atlanta and several other local environmental organizations. Most Atlanta City Council seats are also up for vote this year, too. It is a powerful act to elect officials who will represent our interests at every level. Proof of our priorities can also be shown by adding your name to the Atlanta Canopy Pledge. Trees Atlanta, along with The Conservation Fund, Georgia Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, and Atlanta Audubon Society are collecting signatures to show our elected officials that trees are important to us.
Attend a tree appeal hearing.
The City of Atlanta has a Tree Protection Ordinance, but it can only be as effective as its enforcement. Removal of trees in most Metro Atlanta cities requires permitting; in the City of Atlanta, an orange sign in a yard indicates a permit application. A yellow sign signals approval with a 5-day window for appeals. Citizens have the right to file appeals to these marked removals. Many neighborhood organizations have coordinated with Trees Atlanta to conduct Canopy Conversations to learn more about the state of the canopy in their neighborhoods and to collaborate with us on better protecting trees at risk. The Tree Conservation Commission also has an excellent online resource to learn more.
Go outside and enjoy nature.
Go to your neighborhood park and sit in the shade of a tree. Walk to the grocery store. Take a bike ride through a wooded trail. Experience the calm of forest bathing. Explore the city with your kids to find Atlanta’s Champion Trees. Our Jr. TreeKeeper Camp program for “budding environmental stewards” is based on the fundamental belief that children who play outside and learn the trees are more likely to grown up to become adults who will protect our trees.
Remove invasive vines.
City trees face many challenges, both from man and nature. Neglect and competition from invasive species are a great threat to trees. Invasive vines common in the southeast include kudzu, non-native wisteria, and English Ivy. Many homeowners do not realize that English Ivy is extremely aggressive in our area and can overgrow and kill trees. To make matters worse, thick ivy cover provides excellent breeding habitat for mosquitos and pests. Removing invasive vines from trees prevents tree damage or death due to lack of sunlight, choking/girdling, or breakage from additional weight of vines.
Speak up for trees.
One intentional voice can save a tree. You can ask for alternatives to removing trees at your local NPU zoning committee meetings. If you see a tree being removed without evidence of permitting, you can even call 911 to stop the illegal tree removal. (You may encounter some skepticism from officers who don’t know the code, but it’s the law!) Some citizen advocates have won significant efforts to protect trees in their neighborhoods. The 2017 Atlanta Canopy Conference will be focused on “Giving Voice to Tree Protection” and feature many experienced citizen advocates in Metro Atlanta, as well as experts on ordinances, advocacy, and tree protection from around the southeast. Come be inspired and learn how to protect our trees.
Hug a tree.
Really! On Saturday, September 23, 2017, Trees Atlanta will rally thousands of supporters throughout Atlanta to unite with a simultaneous tree hug! Trees provide so many environmental, economic, and social benefits, they deserve a great big hug. Join us on ATL Tree Hug day to bring more attention to the importance of saving our urban forest. The tree hug will be timed for exactly 10:59 am. Let’s not wait ‘til the 11th hour to save our trees.