Press release from Asheville GreenWorks:
Armed with studies that show an alarming decline of Asheville’s urban tree canopy, a coalition of climate activists, tree conservationists, smart growth advocates, and community residents interested in a greener future for Asheville, are launching a campaign targeting changes that would fundamentally alter the way the city manages its urban forest and responds to climate change.
The Cool Green Asheville campaign calls for funding an urban forester, an urban forest master plan, and citizen participation in revisions to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance to better protect and enhance Asheville’s tree canopy.
Campaign leaders assert that Asheville is years behind similar-sized cities in implementing best urban forest management practices and notes that most canopy loss is due to relatively weak ordinances and the lack of long-term plans and policies to enhance Asheville’s green infrastructure.
Enhancing tree canopy is the primary way cities can combat the urban heat island effect (the dramatic increase in urban temperatures caused by the absorption and then radiation of heat by constructed surfaces). Enhancing the tree canopy also increases the absorption of excess storm water during intense rain events and helps absorb excess carbon and other pollutants.
Cool Green Asheville kicks off its campaign with a symposium, illustrating the scientifically-proven benefits of an urban forest canopy and the need for a climate action initiative, on Thursday, Nov. 14, at The Collider, a global climate innovation center in downtown Asheville. The symposium will include the first public airing of details from a recently completed comprehensive urban tree canopy study, authorized by the City through the Department of Public Works and the Urban Forestry Commission (formerly known as the Tree Commission). Preliminary study findings showed a nearly seven percent tree canopy loss over the 10-year period from 2008 to 2018.
The symposium’s featured speaker will be Cindi Sullivan, executive director of TreesLouisville, a highly respected non-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the value of the community forest, the decline of Louisville’s tree canopy and to the need for planting trees.
In addition, a research team from NASA DEVELOP, part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program, will present a study further delving into data provided by the tree canopy study, to illustrate how the Asheville’s surface temperature has, over time, risen in tandem with tree cover loss. The NASA project, in coordination with the Urban Forestry Commission, also will highlight the connection between evapotranspiration rates and tree cover to illustrate urban heat island vulnerability and the resulting public health risk from increased heat in many parts of the city.
Please join Asheville GreenWorks, the Tree Protection Task Force and the Cool Green Asheville Campaign at the Climate Change and Asheville’s Urban Forest symposium on Thursday, Nov. 14, 5:00-7:30 p.m. at The Collider. You can reserve you place at the free event by visiting ashevillegreenworks.org.