Nashville City strengthens tree protection

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry plans to sign an executive order on February 13, which contains additional protections for trees on the city-owned property, restructures the government’s urban forestry staff, and instructs city agencies to enforce tree standards.

“Nashville’s recent development boom has placed significant pressure on the ‘urban tree canopy,” the mayor’s office revealed. According to Tennessean, the efforts come as Nashville grows rapidly and its trees lose ground to new real estate developments. As per the report, advocates estimate over 50,000 trees a year are hemorrhaging in Davidson County

Barry’s order frames the city’s trees as a public asset. The mayor believes that like a sewer or electrical system, it needs to be maintained. “Urban tree canopy is a utility that improves air quality, manages stormwater, supports public health, provides economic benefits, and increases the quality of life for Nashville residents,” the mayor added.

Moreover, executive director Carolyn Sorenson of the Nashville Tree Foundation said, “Something like a Fort Negley is not going to happen again. We are very encouraged. We can be more effective as a nonprofit when the city leads by example.” Advocates have complained that the city has not been enforcing the tree standards it has on the books. Builders and developers have been knocking down trees without planting the required replacements. After all, the Codes Department is responsible for overseeing tree replacement and protection.

Barry’s order puts emphasis to this: “During the permitting process for any development or construction, trees shall be a major consideration in the review of a grading or building permit application and the issuance of occupancy permits.”

Furthermore, the executive order also streamlines some of the city’s tree staffing and communications. With this, the urban forestry program manager was empowered to coordinate among city agency heads and directly advise the mayor.

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