The Urban Forestry Master Plan is a strategic and long-term investment in Columbus’ tree canopy. An urban forest refers to all the trees within a city, across all lands (both public and private). Why is our tree canopy important? Tree canopy reduces the heat island effect, reduces air pollution, intercepts stormwater, improves quality of life and so much more.
Our tree canopy is vulnerable to threats from disease, pests, the changing climate and increased development. Columbus is expecting 1 million more residents by 2050. Efforts like the Urban Forestry Master Plan need to happen now to ensure residents’ quality of life in the coming decades. While this is an effort run through the Recreation and Parks Department of the city, it is not one that will be implemented by just this department or even just the City.
What is the Urban Forestry Master Plan?
The Columbus Urban Forestry Master Plan is a strategic and long-term investment in Columbus' tree canopy. Our tree canopy is vulnerable to threats from disease, pests, the changing climate and increased development. Columbus is expecting 1 million more residents by 2050. Efforts like the Urban Forestry Master Plan need to happen now to ensure residents' quality of life in the coming decades. This plan will engage stakeholders (both internal and external to city departments), review current operations and policies impacting trees, and recommend strategies for improvements.
What is an urban forest?
An urban forest is simply a term that refers to all trees within a city, across all lands (both public and private).
Why is an urban forestry master plan needed?
We are growing, and urban stresses are increasing. With a population of more than 880,000 people, Columbus is the 14th largest city in the nation. Additionally, Columbus has the fastest-growing urban heat island effect of major U.S. cities, which impacts health, energy use and water quality. With the high influx of people expected in the future, this condition will worsen without strategies to maintain and improve our tree canopy.
How do trees help?
Trees provide significant tangible benefits to residents. They are nature's workhorses: cleaning out air, providing shade and intercepting stormwater, among many other services. Learn about each benefit in more detail. Best of all, they have been proven to pay for themselves -- urban trees provide benefits values at up to five times greater than the costs to maintain them. The recently published Columbus Climate Action Plan suggested trees as part of the solution to making Columbus a more resilient city.
How is Columbus being proactive?
The City of Columbus has been researching solutions to lead in the care of the community's tree canopy. The Urban Forestry Master Plan will serve to examine this by looking at our current canopy, operations, sources of gains and losses in canopy and the role of all types of entities within the city to help make our community healthy, vibrant and resilient to our growing urban challenges.
How much tree canopy do we have currently?
The 2015 Urban Tree Canopy Assessment found that tree canopy covers only 22 percent of the land in Columbus, which is substantially less than comparable cities such as Cincinnati (38%) and Pittsburgh (42%). With the projected growth in the coming decades, this number is not likely to rise without a long-term strategy in place. How much canopy does your own neighborhood have? Find out here.
How is the Urban Forestry Master Plan different from the Branch Out Initiative?
Branch Out Columbus called attention to the importance of trees and the tree canopy in Columbus. However, as the effort progressed, data and input received from the project partners highlighted the need for activities beyond just planting trees. A broader strategic plan that includes preservation of existing canopy, education and other strategies to preserve, maintain and increase Columbus' urban forest over the next 20 years will do more to get the city on track for long-term success. The Urban Forestry Master Plan is a logical next step that will provide a more comprehensive solution.
Who can participate? What is the project timeline?
This work began in October 2019, and Phase I will continue through 2020. Multiple organization, neighborhoods, agencies, and department will be included in this project to provide input and engage networks within Columbus. Additional input was being gathered through a public open house on March 4th and an online comment form that closed on April 15. Read more here about the project process.
Update 11/25/20. Thank you for your support of the Urban Forestry Master Plan! We wanted to share some updates with you
we heard you!
Thank you to the hundreds of Columbus residents who gave us their input both online and at our public open house. Your perspectives are critical to develop the city’s first Urban Forestry Master Plan. Click here to see what we heard from YOU!