History

From seedlings, a forest can grow – the path to a vibrant tree canopy for Atlanta

Since its beginnings, the primary goals of Trees Atlanta have been to replace trees lost to development, conserve existing trees, protect green space areas, and educate the community's residents and workers regarding the many benefits of trees. These actions have resulted in Trees Atlanta becoming one of the most widely known non-profits throughout metro-Atlanta and a highly regarded community steward of our urban environment.

Founded in 1985 by Central Atlanta Progress (the downtown business leaders association), the Atlanta Commissioner of Parks, and the Atlanta Junior League, Trees Atlanta was initially tasked with improving the tree canopy in downtown Atlanta. Despite the fact that the Atlanta metropolitan area is recognized by the National Forest Service as “the most heavily forested urban area in the country”, the Atlanta Central Business District was severely lacking in trees compared to other major cities across the country and around the world. Trees Atlanta met that challenge head-on, planting over 40 shade trees in downtown Atlanta in its first year. Since then, Trees Atlanta has expanded its focus to the entire metro area (inside I-285), and 96,000 trees later, the mission continues to evolve.

Trees Atlanta Milestones: Through the Years

  • 1985: Trees Atlanta is founded, hires first Executive Director, Marcia Bansley
  • 1986: Urban Trees Program Begins (Contractor Tree Planting)
  • 1990: Trees Atlanta’s Volunteer Program Begins
  • 1992: Kick-off for multi-million dollar Olympic Downtown Improvement Project
  • 1996: 318 trees are planted in and around Centennial Olympic Park
  • 1997: “Trees for Atlanta” Capital Campaign raises $2.4 million
  • 1999: Trees Atlanta helps save Morningside Nature Preserve
  • 2000: Trees Atlanta helps save Connally Nature Park
  • 2002: “Dreamers Park” created next to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, supported by The Kendeda Fund
  • 2002: Volunteer Program officially renamed “NeighborWoods”
  • 2003: Forest Restoration Program begins
  • 2005: Neighborhood Arboretum Program begins
  • 2007: “Putting Down Roots” Capital Campaign raises nearly $5.5 million
  • 2007: Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Concept Plan developed; implementation begins
  • 2008: Education Program Officially Begins
  • 2008: New headquarters opens at the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center
  • 2009: LEED Platinum Certification for Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center
  • 2010: Happy 25th Anniversary Trees Atlanta!
  • 2011: Marcia Bansley retired after 26 years of leadership, and Connie Veates and Greg Levine are named Co-Executive Directors of Trees Atlanta
  • 2012: Planting of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum begins on the Eastside Trail
  • 2013: Trees Atlanta is awarded 2013 Member Organization of the Year by EarthShare of Georgia
  • 2014: Trees Atlanta celebrates planting 100,000 trees since 1985, and hosts The Root Ball presented by The Southeast Permanente Medical Group