PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia kicked off the public engagement process that will guide its first 10-year strategic plan for the planting and care of the urban forest. The Philly Tree Plan will tackle new ways to address the decline in the city’s urban forest—all of the trees in the city including those on streets and campuses, and in yards, parks, and natural areas.
“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.”
Starting today, the public can get involved and provide input on trees in the city.
- The Survey is the easiest way for people to share their feedback. The survey takes seven 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.
- The Photography Challenge is for those who love to take photos and have a story about a tree to share. Youth and adults alike 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.
- 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.
- 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 will be active from April 12 through mid-June. The draft Philly Tree Plan will be presented for public comment in September 2021.
To take part, the public can visit: https://www.phila.gov/programs/philly-tree-plan/.
About Philadelphia Parks & Recreation: Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of her people through stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways, and management of 500 recreation buildings, 166 miles of trail, and 250 playgrounds. PPR offers safe, enjoyable recreation, environmental and cultural programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. Visit us at www.phila.gov/parksandrec, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
About the Philly Tree Plan: The Philly Tree Plan seeks to establish a 10-year strategic plan for the planting and care of the urban forest, guided by values of environmental justice, community engagement, and sustainability. The Plan will be developed through a robust engagement process based on principles of environmental justice, community engagement, and sustainability. It is sponsored by generous support from William Penn Foundation, TD Bank, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Knight Foundation.
The plan will:
- Set goals for preserving and growing the urban forest in a way that best supports communities and works to correct inequality.
- Update City policy to better protect trees from development and make it easier for residents to grow the forest in their own neighborhoods.
- Foster better communication between residents and the city by making a plan for ongoing education and engagement.
- Plan for management of trees in every part of the city that is responsive to resident needs, ecology, and climate change.
- Find funding opportunities from many sources to invest back into communities.