Did you know Charlotte is considered to be “The City of Trees? It’s true! Perhaps one of the city’s best-kept secrets is that it’s nationally-recognized for its urban tree canopy and coverage.
But what’s not a secret? How enjoyable it is to live in Charlotte. And the resulting increase in population and new development over recent years has meant a decline to the city’s once sprawling tree canopy.
From 2012-2018 alone, Charlotte’s tree canopy coverage was measured to have declined by more than 8%.
So why does this matter?
An urban tree canopy is more than something pretty to look at; it’s crucial for a healthy urban environment. Adequate tree coverage supports air purification, water filtration, and helps reduce rising temperatures. A diverse tree canopy can also benefit property values based on the age of the trees, tree species, and the amount of coverage the trees provide.
And this is where TreesCharlotte comes in.
While it’s sad to think about Charlotte losing its beautiful trees, thankfully, this local organization is committed to doing all that it can to slow the canopy’s decline.
Established in 2010, TreesCharlotte’s mission is to grow, diversify and steward the city’s iconic urban forest while building partnerships in the community and educating volunteers and neighbors about the maintenance and benefits of healthy trees.
LendScout is excited to begin partnering with TreesCharlotte in their efforts to protect our environment and educate our community so we asked Jen Rothacker, TreesCharlotte’s Community Engagement Officer, a few questions to learn more about their mission and ways we can all help support their important efforts:
TreesCharlotte was incorporated in 2010 and launched its first planting season in 2012 after a tree canopy survey noted a 1% drop in the city’s tree coverage.
Civic leaders who recognized the value of a thriving canopy convened a committee to study solutions and found similar tree [organizations] had formed around the country.
TreesCharlotte was born with the charge to organize tree plantings throughout the city and distribute trees to Charlotteans to plant in their own yards, using the financial backing of donations and help from volunteers.
We work in partnership with the City of Charlotte, which plants a substantial number of trees every year but is limited to the right-of-way (essentially street trees) and city property.
Since it’s a non-profit, TreesCharlotte can focus on the remaining 90% of available property.
We host events in ALL conditions.
I remember my first TreeStore as a staff member – a December citywide TreeStore at our headquarters on Tuckaseegee. It was pouring and freezing out; and yet there we were, loading up hundreds of trees.
As a newbie, I clearly didn’t know the dress code. I wore a cotton sweatshirt, sweatpants, and rain boots – which, I quickly realized, had a couple of holes in the bottom. I was utterly soaked and seriously cold. I’m pretty sure I hit up REI the next day.
It’s so easy to take trees for granted.
When we fly into Charlotte-Douglas Airport, there’s the Queen City, blanketed in trees. When we drive down city streets, beautiful trees line the way.
But the reality is that Charlotte is losing 100,000 trees a year from development and age. The consequences are serious.
A rich canopy keeps our air clean and our summers cooler. Trees drink an enormous amount of water, keeping runoff under control. Trees provide habitat for wildlife, fruit and nuts for humans and animals, and beauty for all.
Our city would look significantly different without our thick canopy of trees.
The biggest loss of trees has happened on residential properties – in part because of new developments and in part because of renovations. That’s the bad news.
The good news [is] residential property is still the most available land for trees. This means that every homeowner can make a difference simply by planting trees and encouraging your neighbors to do the same.
I like to think of tree planting as a civic duty. You’re not just improving your own property, but you are improving the quality of life for all Charlotteans.
We’re grateful for Jen taking the time to share more about TreesCharlotte and why the tree canopy matters so much.
Head to TreesCharlotte to learn more about their mission and how you can get involved.
If you’re in the market for some new trees for yourself or others, their first citywide TreeStore of the fall season opens this Saturday, September 26 at 9 a.m.
You’ll receive two FREE trees/person with proof of Charlotte residency. Pre-registration is required and available here.