Tuesday March 13, 2007

The City of Miami has a tree master-plan

tree canopy

It wasn’t always this way, but Miami-Dade has an abysmal tree canopy. The usual scapegoats are Hurricane Andrew and the Citrus Canker eradication program, but the former was 15 years ago, and the latter included cash reimbursements, so the more likely culprit is neglect and apathy. County-wide, the tree canopy is somewhere around 10% (the equivalent of 5 large trees per acre), one of the worst in the nation.

Now comes the City of Miami’s Tree Master Plan, proposed by Manny Diaz in February. I got a copy, and I also talked to Stephanie N. Grindell, the City’s director of Public Works, who had a hand in writing the plan. Here are the highlights:

But yadda-yadda — here’s the whole plan (.doc) for those interested. And now for the bad news. First of all, the plan uses wishy-washy language throughout. Not “the city will have 30% tree canopy coverage by 2020,” but “The plan . . . will be used as a framework to coordinate efforts to restore and enhance the City’s tree canopy with a goal of a minimum of 30% . . .” (emphasis added). “It is the city’s goal to have a certified arborist . . .” and so on.

Maybe that’s just how public documents are written. What’s worse is that the 30% goal is actually low. American Forests itself recommends 40% coverage for cities everywhere except the dry Southwest (in which we ain’t). And in its two years of existence, 80% of the Tree Trust Fund has not been spent on tree replacement; in fact the program is just now really getting going (Ms. Grindell chuckled when I asked about the plan before explaining).

Don’t get me wrong — it’s great that there’s a plan, and it’s not too late. But it is too little. There’s some indication of City/County partnership in this thing. I say let’s get our new strong county mayor involved, and adapt the plan to the whole county. And let’s set a hard goal, not a soft one. And let’s go for the 40% — flying over Miami in the 1980’s was like flying over a forest (ok, sort of), and it can be like that again.

Thanks to Steve for the American Forests link.

Update: Other interesting links: TREEmendousMiami, and America’s urban forests: growing concerns, a 10-year old article in American Forests.

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  1. bleh    Tue Mar 13, 11:20 AM #  

    anyone know what the coverage was in the 80’s?

  2. b.a.c.    Tue Mar 13, 11:58 AM #  

    My little town, Miami Springs, has a wonderful canopy =). In fact it’s part of tree city usa. One of the reasons I haven’t moved yet; the thought of waking up, walking and sitting in the dog park in a concrete jungle is incredibly unappealing.

  3. alesh    Tue Mar 13, 12:01 PM #  

    I couldn’t find it on the internets. Notice how the study’s first data points are in 1995? I wonder if that’s because there isn’t good satellite imagery from the 1985’s, or because they just don’t want to know the full extent of the degradation.

  4. Brent Cutler    Tue Mar 13, 01:11 PM #  

    The City of Miami has $638,000.00 via the Tree Trust Fund which is to be used for tree replacement.

    The Village of Coconut Grove was given $306,000.00 by the City of Miami in September 2006 for their “Reforestation” effort. Is this money to be used exclusively for the Village of Coconut Grove or will it be combined with the Tree Trust Fund?

    Brent Cutler

  5. Male Dogs    Tue Mar 13, 01:25 PM #  

    We’re completely in favor of adding more trees.

  6. Female Dogs    Tue Mar 13, 01:32 PM #  

    Male Dogs: I thought you all preferred the fire hydrants!

  7. Manola Blablablanik    Tue Mar 13, 01:38 PM #  

    Yeah, official language has to be careful to not claim anything that hasn’t actually happened yet (liability).

    Yay! More trees. Certain parts of Miami don’t have a spec of green in them. I do hope ALL these trees will be natives. There’s no point in planting trees that will flip over or be denuded of leaves so easily.

    Are there any efforts to encourage people to plant in their own yards? I think greenerMiami posted about this a while back.

  8. alesh    Tue Mar 13, 02:03 PM #  


    Yes! There is something called “community forester workshops” which after you complete them you get a packet with literature, seeds, etc. Doesn’t mention any payments to individuals for planting trees, though (only the fines when they cut them down).


    No idea. Maybe the $306k came from the trust fund?

  9. Lazy Dog Owners    Tue Mar 13, 04:53 PM #  

    Trees! Hydrants! Sidewalks! Grassy areas! It’s all a big toilet for our Fifi.

  10. palm of your eye    Tue Mar 13, 05:06 PM #  

    miami-dade county has a pretty decent adopt-a-tree program, (much better than broward county) which gives NATIVE trees away a few times a year to homeowners in miami-dade or rentors that have proof of permission from their landlord to plant these free trees on their property.

    currently the site does not have any set dates for the events, but they should occur in may. check it out to grab yourself a free tree.

    sometimes they even give away amazing native shubbery trees with beautiful flowers!

  11. skipvancel    Thu Mar 15, 11:22 AM #  

    This whole tree ordinance is a sham. Instead of settling for whatever they offer us, the residents of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade county should insist that all developers with trees on their property follow the requirements Miami-Dade county put in place for the developers of The Preserve townhouse project in the Miami Shores area of unicorporated Miami-Dade county . The county required them to save all of the trees and transplant them. Some of these trees were well over 50 years old and the plan was a great success with the majority of the trees survivng (I believe 3 were lost) Wilma whlie still in their transplant stage. The entire transplant of approximately 15 trees cost around 200K and was so successful that the developers changed the name of the project from “Marbella” to “The Preserve” and though they fought the tree preservation efforts they capitalized on it after the project was done by focusing on their “preservation” efforts.
    Their should be a moratorium imposed on any trees being cut down until the city and county get their shit together.

  12. 'Ista    Thu Mar 15, 05:24 PM #  

    As long as the Grove is green who cares if Miami is barren. J/k. Great info. It causes like what, half a hope that we won’t be a parking lot and buildings?

  13. alesh    Thu Mar 15, 08:03 PM #  

    BTW, the image is an outtake from Morningside.

  14. M Rodriquez    Fri Mar 16, 12:00 AM #  

    City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff spent years volunteering to get more trees. Sarnoff recently brought forth a resolution to provide steeper fines to developers who kill trees. The money from the fines can be used to purchase and plant new trees.

    Belle Meade resident Steve Hagen has been a great advocate for more trees and less concrete.

    Mayor Manny Diaz wants to pave 50% of Bicentennial Park and spend $500+ Mil taxpayer dollars on two huge buildings. Diaz wants to replace a huge grassy field with massive concrete structures. If you disagree, then speak up.

  15. T Devecht    Wed Mar 28, 11:29 PM #  

    Bicentennial Park would look best being green and having great landscaping. Besides who can afford $500 Mil for one-two museums nobody will ever visit? We are all too broke paying our RE taxes, our insurance and your transportation…