City of Columbus Announces New Urban Forestry Master Plan is Now Available for Public Comment
COLUMBUS, OH – Columbus Recreation and
Parks Department is unveiling its new Urban Forestry Master Plan, which is the
first citywide, strategic plan to invest long-term in Columbus’ trees. Over the
next decades, the Urban Forestry Master Plan will serve as a blueprint for
revitalizing our urban forest and strategically investing in neighborhoods
where trees will do the most good.
Columbus faces many
challenges today and over the coming decades, and trees are part of the
solution. Trees help reduce urban stressors — cleaning our air, providing
shade, intercepting stormwater and more. In Columbus, our trees provide $38
million in benefits each year. However, our tree canopy is vulnerable to
threats from disease, pests, the changing climate and increased development. To
improve our residents’ quality of life, we needed a strategic plan to invest in
A 2015 Urban Tree Canopy
Assessment found that 22 percent of Columbus is covered with trees, much less
than peer cities such as Pittsburgh (40 percent) and Cincinnati (39 percent). A
comprehensive assessment of Columbus’ urban forest found that, across 32
indicators of a sustainable urban forest, Columbus ranked low or moderate in
all categories. This assessment serves as a baseline to measure future progress
and emphasizes the need for updated data, proactive management, robust tree
protection and community involvement.
“We are excited to share
the first Urban Forestry Master Plan with the public,” said Paul Rakosky,
interim director of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. “This plan is the
culmination of months of work, and we are eager to share our 15 action steps
with the community to get their feedback on how we can improve our urban canopy
right here in Columbus.”
Through the input of
residents, industry experts and urban forestry stakeholders, Columbus has a
path forward. The Urban Forestry Master Plan has three goals. One is long-term,
and the other two are short-term. All are critical to achieving our vision for
Columbus’ urban forest:
- Goal 1: Reach Citywide Tree
Canopy Cover of 40 percent.
- Goal 2: Stop the Net Canopy
Losses by 2030.
- Goal 3: Invest in Equitable
Canopy Across All Neighborhoods by 2030.
To achieve our vision,
we must coordinate and collaborate, follow best practices, dedicate resources
and enact strong policies. With the Urban Forestry Master Plan, we will
prioritize, preserve and grow the tree canopy in Columbus, equitably across
neighborhoods, to improve health and quality of life for all of our residents.
The public comment
period for the Urban Forestry Master Plan will be held through Wednesday, March
31. People can read the Urban Forestry Master Plan and share their comments by
going to www.columbusufmp.org/get-involved.html.