Michael Orm, CEO of Peachtree Arborists, told CNN that as the owner of the tree-planting company, he is in a unique position to help solve the city’s tree loss problem.
“After working on so many big-name storms nationally and seeing such devastation on such a massive scale, we felt a responsibility to renew those tree canopies,” Ormi explained.
The Atlanta Department of Planning first conducted a comprehensive tree canopy analysis in 2008, and subsequently determined that the Atlanta tree canopy was #1 in coverage for a major city—47.9% of the metropolitan area was covered by a tree canopy. But by 2018, that coverage had fallen to 46.5%.
Eli Dickerson, chief environmentalist at the Fernbank Museum, told CNN that the decline appears small on paper but has dire consequences.
“What these numbers don’t tell us is what kind of trees were removed,” Dickerson said. “The numbers vary, you don’t know what type of forest it is and not all are the same. Old forests with big trees tend to be more diverse, they provide more ecosystem services like water storage and cleaning, and air cooling. So it’s a big deal.”
“The other thing trees do for us is isolate pollution,” Dickerson said. “On top of living in an area that might experience more flooding, living in an area that is hotter, and living in an area that also has more particulates and poor air quality, all of this can be addressed by trees.”
Dan Lampe, CEO of Arbor Day Foundation, described the foundation’s ethos and commitment to preserving tree ecosystems: “We work with local and not-for-profit tree planting organizations, cities, city leaders, city foresters, volunteers, and all kinds of community leaders to help assess and identify best practices for tree planting and forest management in our cities and towns.”
“The trees in our cities are the hardest trees to work there,” Lampi said. “They shade our homes, cool our communities, remove pollutants from the air, increase our property values, and create economic opportunity.”