News & Press

Atlanta City Council Approves New Subsection to Tree Protection Ordinance for the Procurement of Forested Land



ATLANTA, GA, December 19, 2016 – A proposed amendment to the Tree Protection Ordinance of the City of Atlanta entitled “Tree Trust Fund” was adopted unanimously by the Atlanta City Council on November 21, 2016. This amendment allows for purchase of forested property that meets certain criteria. The Tree Trust Fund, which has primarily funded new tree planting in the past, may now be used to purchase forested property to protect the existing canopy. Each property proposed for purchase will be evaluated and vetted individually for suitability. Once purchased, it must be preserved as forested land and be available for free public access.

This change will help to preserve the City’s overall tree canopy, providing important environmental and health benefits that can only be provided by mature forested land.

Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Atlanta, said, “We still have an opportunity to build communities in Atlanta that continue to be integrated with high-quality, urban forests, and this is an important step in that direction.”

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability proposed the amendment with support from the City’s Department of Planning and Community Development, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Atlanta Canopy Alliance (ACA), an urban forest conservation alliance made up of The Conservation Fund, Georgia Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and Trees Atlanta.

“Atlanta is perhaps the only major city in America that retains a viable portion of high-quality, native forest land. However, most of Atlanta’s land is privately owned, so most of that forested land is subject to development. It is critical for the health and functioning of our urban ecosystem to protect existing forested land in addition to planting more trees.”
– Atlanta Canopy Alliance

The purpose of the City of Atlanta’s Tree Protection Ordinance is to assure that there is no net loss of trees within the boundaries of the city and that the citizens of Atlanta will continue to enjoy the benefits provided by its urban forest. The Ordinance also establishes a Tree Trust Fund to be utilized for the protection, maintenance, and regeneration of the trees and other forest resources of Atlanta. The Tree Trust Fund is funded by developers, builders, contractors, homeowners and others who remove healthy trees in the city.

As recently as 2008, 48% of the City of Atlanta was covered by tree canopy. Today, three of the top ten counties in the Southern US experiencing tree loss due to development are in the Atlanta metro region (Gwinnett, Fulton and Cobb). In an effort to help raise awareness about the issue and the multiple benefits of tree canopy, the Atlanta Canopy Alliance has written a pledge to help the voice of Atlantans be heard by our city’s policy makers and influencers. To take the Atlanta Canopy Pledge, visit www.treesatlanta.org/pledge.

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About the Atlanta Canopy Alliance
The mission the Alliance is to enhance and preserve Atlanta’s tree canopy through education, advocacy and other collective efforts of Alliance members. Current members include The Conservation Fund, Georgia Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and Trees Atlanta.

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