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Capital Region News

City Of Albany To Plant 2025 New Trees By 2025

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WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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A decline in Albany's urban forest cover, especially in underserved neighborhoods, has led to a program to replace lost trees and add thousands more to city streets.

City officials led by Mayor Kathy Sheehan gathered near the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Quail Street Thursday to launch an ambitious citywide reforestation program.

"We are committed to planting at least 2,025 trees by 2025. Our urban forest is complex, it's dynamic. It's constantly evolving. And so in order to properly manage it, we need to preserve healthy trees. We need to remove and repalce trees that are diseased or that have reached the end of their life."

10th Ward Common Councilor Owusu Anane represents the Pine Hills neighborhood.

"Currently the city underwrites one half of the cost of purchasing a tree. This program relies on the interest of a property owner to be pro-active and must opt-in. This, when a tree is removed, unless a property owner is pro-active in approaching the city for replacing the tree. No replacement of that tree is taking place. This has resulted in many streets in Albany without street trees, predominately in streets and neighborhoods in which buildings are owned by absentee landlords or out of town property owners. Quite frankly, this is a equity issue. Let's face it. Neighborhoods without street trees in the city are those with the highest poverty rates."

Residents can plant a tree in front of or adjacent to their home. For a small fee resident will receive a newly planted tree of their choice. The city will plant the tree, provide care instructions and an official adoption certificate. The resident will agree to water and maintain the tree for a minimum of 3 years.

Sheehan notes Albany’s urban forest also faces unprecedented challenges from both invasive insect and tree species, as well as climate change.

"We really worked to create a plan that allows us to address all of those issues and recognize that while many trees have to come down, we estimate that since 2008, we've lost at least a thousand city street trees, which is a significant loss, that we have to commit ourselves to rebuilding our urban forests. And that requires a comprehensive approach that involves all of the stakeholders in the city."

The program has an “adopt a tree” component – providing residents, businesses, and community organizations the chance to adopt a tree anywhere in the city or donate to the initiative.

Here's a link to join the program.

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