This year VPA is launching a community tree program called "Trees Matter" in order to increase public knowledge of permaculture and trees in the valley. A large part of our efforts will be to educate others on why trees matter in the urban desert southwest. In a timely coincidence, Richard Adkins, the Forestry Supervisor for the City of Phoenix, was recently featured in this article where he discusses upcoming urban forestry projects aimed at increasing Phoenix’s tree canopy cover—the shade that we need when it’s 110ºF outside!
Currently Phoenix has about 9% urban tree canopy cover but, Mr. Adkins explains, in the 1920’s the city boasted 50% tree canopy. The City of Phoenix is working towards a goal of 25% tree cover by 2030 which means roughly 5,636,000 new trees must be planted over the next 14 years, or 376,000 new trees each year. This amount of newly planted trees in less than 20 years, Mr. Adkins admits, is a very hefty goal considering that Phoenix’s current budget allows for the planting of 3,000 trees per year but the city also removes about 2,000 trees each year due to disease and damage. The Forestry Division, he adds, is hoping to receive enough money allotted to plant 5,000 trees a year and, therefore, achieve 75,000 newly planted trees by 2040. In order to reach his goal of 20% urban tree canopy cover in 25 years, Mr. Adkins stresses the need for everyone to plant trees on private property as well as public land. And this is where you and VPA come in…
Last year thanks to those who participated in our SRP Shade Tree program and to the many volunteers who helped, we gave away 5,790 desert-adapted shade trees! This year with the help of a Community Challenge Grant awarded to us from the Arizona State Forestry Division, we hope to increase that number through our Trees Matter community tree program. We will also be partnering with the Arizona Community Tree Council and the Roosevelt School District to replace lost or damaged trees, to provide professional development for staff, and to create educational material for children such as coloring books that highlight why desert trees are so special!
We hope you will follow us (and join as a volunteer) in the following year as we show others why Trees Matter!
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