The City of New Orleans’ Plan for the 21st Century: New Orleans 2030 was the first document in recent history to recognize the city’s tree canopy as critical to New Orleans’ resilience. The Plan set a goal of a 50% tree canopy by 2030. New Orleans local nonproﬁt organization, Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL), learned about the need for baseline data to determine the city’s existing tree canopy coverage to inform future goals. This new data revealed the need for a more comprehensive plan to increase the New Orleans’ tree canopy and was a wake up call that activated SOUL to organize the development of a reforestation plan that was ambitious, yet realistic and achievable.
SOUL coordinated the Plan’s creation over the past two and a half years and engaged Spackman Mossop Michaels (SMM) to write the New Orleans Reforestation Plan. SMM compiled the enormous amount of research, data and feedback gathered by SOUL into an ambitious but actionable document. The Reforestation Plan charts a path for a carefully budgeted, systematic campaign to regrow an equitable urban forest in New Orleans. The report reﬂects the work and extensive input by a dedicated coalition of local government agencies, not-for-proﬁts, citizens, neighborhood associations, academics, urban planners, landscape architects, and other professionals. The document provides a comprehensive vision and detailed plan for the restoration of the City’s urban forest over the course of the next 20-30 years.
Through the New Orleans Reforestation Plan, SMM offers both a list of focused citywide goals as well as a phased pilot plan approach to comprehensive reforestation with equity as the guiding principle. Rather than planting trees sporadically across the City, the Plan recognizes that trees and the benefits they provide are not evenly spread across the city. The Plan recommends a pilot phase over the next decade where tree canopies are established in ﬁve neighborhoods across Orleans Parish. These neighborhoods were chosen for their current tree deﬁcit and environmental needs, and the goal is to plant every block of these areas.
This initial focus will allow the City's collective capacity to grow into the challenge – to develop a unified tree policy, to ramp up the supply of native, water-loving trees, adequately fund the City’s tree planting and maintenance programs, blend together a reliable public and philanthropic funding stream, and build the operational capacity to plant 4,000 to 5,000 trees per year. Post 2030, the effort can then expand city-wide, with a goal of complete reforestation by 2050.
The final document, the New Orleans Reforestation Plan, is available at https://soulnola.org/reforestationplan/.
“Trees are why you take that streetcar ride down St. Charles and spend your afternoon in City Park. Not only do they keep our streets cool, make our electricity bills lower, and help prevent flooding, but they’re also part of the magic of our city.”
Emily Bullock, Principal, Spackman Mossop Michaels