Akron Looks to Increase Tree Canopy Following Study
A recent study finds nearly 35% of Akron is covered in tree canopy. That’s better than most cities, but there’s concern about replacing what’s been lost during the past decade.
The study found that the city's canopy declined 2% in that time. Mayor Dan Horrigan says it’s partly because of ongoing projects.
"The sewer project and some of those other projects caused us – because of this federal decree that we have to be able to fix that overflow – we had to take down a significant number of trees to that area, and we weren’t replacing enough at the same time,” Horrigan said.
The city partnered with the Davey Tree Expert Co. to conduct the study in 2020, which cost the city more than $58,000.
The study found that Akron is capable of increasing its canopy to 40%. But Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development James Hardy says it’s not something the city can afford right now.
“I absolutely think we can get to 40% in the future without the city even needing to foot the bill, if we all sort of collectively chipped in and did our part,” he said.
Hardy also says the study revealed several low-income neighborhoods in the city known as “heat islands” that have less coverage. Because of this, the neighborhoods become hotter in the summer than other areas and don’t experience the environmental and economic benefits that come with trees.
Hardy says the city will refocus funding to plant trees in these areas.
“We want to make sure we prioritize those areas first and foremost, so they will be getting more time and attention from the standpoint of our city arborist and his team to make sure that we are maximizing our opportunity in those areas to improve the situation,” he said.
Hardy would also like to see education programs for residents and businesses and a community-wide sponsor-a-tree program.
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