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Atlanta’s Tree Canopy Threatened By Development, Some Say

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Atlanta is sometimes called a “city in a forest.” Nearly 50 percent of the city is covered in trees, according to a 2014 study from Georgia Tech, making Atlanta’s canopy the densest among all cities that have measured their tree coverage.

But lately some worry this common resource could be in jeopardy ─ especially in neighborhoods where real estate’s in high demand.





Development Uprooting Trees

Driving around Atlanta, the man working to preserve the city’s trees starts to sound like the grim reaper.

“That tree’s gonna get destroyed,” said Greg Levine, co-executive director of Trees Atlanta. He pointed through the window of his Prius to a home being built right next to an oak tree.

Greg Levine is co-executive director of Trees Atlanta.
CREDIT STEPHANNIE STOKES / WABE

“They’ve come too close to it, and my guess is seven years it’ll be in such decline they’ll have to remove it,” Levine said.

Levine sees development uprooting trees all around Atlanta, from large homes taking over once-forested backyards to mixed use complexes that left little room for replanting.

It has him worried because as the economy picks up, so does construction.

“We’re losing trees in so many different ways we’ve just got to stop and think about how the city will grow and still have things that grow in it,” said Levine.

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