A new program in Baltimore, Maryland, has recently upped its proactive approach to caring for city trees.
Thanks to a mutual effort by the city forestry board, the nonprofit Baltimore Tree Trust and Tree Baltimore, residents citywide are able to sign up for Baltimore TreeKeepers, which offers free tree stewardship classes and will aid in achieving the city’s goal of increasing tree canopy from 27-40 percent by 2040.
In a Baltimore Sun article, Amanda Cunningham, executive director of Baltimore Tree Trust, said TreeKeepers mission is “to get more trees in the ground, protect the ones we have and educate the public. We’re trying to get trees in neighborhoods with low tree counts.”
Erik Dihle, Baltimore’s city arborist, also promoted the important role TreeKeepers will play in achieving “buy-in” from the community. “We want the citizens of Baltimore to take ownership of the beautiful heritage we have.”
More than fifty people have shown their pride and care for Baltimore’s urban forests by signing up for TreeKeepers. Residents explained they were interested in the classes because they like trees, are interested in acquiring and sharing information about trees and tree care, would like to improve neighborhoods with fewer and/or damaged trees, or have a desire to do civic work.
Cunningham’s ultimate goal is “to train people in neighborhoods to take responsibility for basic tree planting and care.” The TreeKeepers curriculum will also offer higher-level certification classes that requires helping at tree-planting events around the city.
Baltimore has three million trees in the city, 125,000 of them on city streets and in city parks, according to some estimates.
Cunningham has seen the need for citywide tree care after recent storms, such as Irene and Sandy, resulted in losses to Baltimore’s tree canopy.
“Many simply fell over because the ground was so saturated, but a healthier tree canopy would be more resistant to storms, because air would move more smoothly through the trees,” said Cunningham. “A good, balanced canopy is very important to the growth of a tree.”
The Arbor Day Foundation recognizes the dynamic benefits urban forests offer communities by raising property value, adding aesthetic appeal, lowering temperatures, changing wind patterns, reducing energy use (and costs) and improving air quality.
The Baltimore TreeKeepers are a great example of environmental stewardship, helping to ensure the future sustainability of the city’s urban forests, and providing long-term benefits to the overarching community.