City needs your input on Philly Tree Plan

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More trees, please.

That’s the sentiment of the Philly Tree Plan, an initiative that seeks to establish a 10-year plan for the planting and care of the urban forest, guided by environmental justice, community engagement and sustainability.

The city recently kicked off the public engagement process that will guide this strategic plan by tackling new ways to support residents and address the decline in the city’s tree canopy.

“Trees are vital to our health, happiness, and quality of life,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “They help keep our air cleaner, and make our neighborhoods stronger and more beautiful. The Philly Tree Plan will set us on the path to bringing the benefits of trees to communities that need them most.”

Philadelphians are encouraged to get involved and provide input on trees throughout the city.

  1. The Survey is the easiest way for people to share their feedback.  The survey takes 7 to 10 minutes to complete, and will gauge how Philadelphians relate to trees in the city, the barriers they see to tree planting, and areas for improvement.  Survey findings will inform the tree plan recommendations—from city policy, to funding decisions, to education and community support programs.

  2. The Photography Challenge is for those who love to take photos and have a story about a tree to share. People can easily share their experiences on social media using hashtag #PhillyTreeStories to identify places and spaces of the urban forest that are important to them.

  3. The Virtual Open House offers more information for residents interested in learning more about the current state of Philadelphia’s urban forest and the Philly Tree Plan. Three self-guided presentations explore: what the urban forest is and why it is important; why Philadelphia’s urban forest is not equitably distributed; and an overview of the Philly Tree Plan and how it will support communities.

In addition to virtual public engagement, the Philly Tree Plan team is conducting community engagement in priority neighborhoods, selected based on environmental justice criteria, including proximity to industrial areas, air quality, public health, and demographics. Neighborhood Ambassadors were recruited for a six-week stipend-based program in five priority neighborhoods across the city.  Ambassadors will conduct interviews with neighbors and complete visual storytelling exercises that will inform the Tree Plan recommendations.

“Trees can be a source of joy for residents. They can also be a source of stress. We encourage all Philadelphia residents to join the conversation, whether they have a lot to say or just a few words, good experiences with trees or complicated relationships with trees,” said Erica Smith Fichman, the project lead and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Community Forestry Manager. “Trees play a huge role in our lives, so for this plan to be impactful, it must take into account the diverse views of residents and community leaders.”

The public engagement efforts are active now through mid-June. The draft Philly Tree Plan will be presented for public comment in September 2021.

To take part, visit: phila.gov/programs/philly-tree-plan.

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