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Wednesday April 23, 2008

An expansion at Coral Way Elementary requires cutting down 6 old Ficus trees, and local residents are protesting.

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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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