In April of 2016, the Livable Nashville Committee comprised of Music City’s leading experts in public, private, education, environmental and philanthropic sectors released a report evaluating the livability and environmental quality of Nashville as a city. With an ambitious vision to make Nashville the greenest city in the Southeast, some of the committee’s findings led them to believe that action needed to be taken sooner rather than later. They discovered that since the year 2000 Nashville’s population had increased by 45%, and over the course of 10 years its urban canopy rates had fallen from 28% to 24%. It was out of these discoveries and more that Root Nashville was born in 2018 to help alleviate some of the environmental challenges related to the city’s growth.
Root Nashville is a public/private partnership led by Metro Water and Cumberland River Compact. Nashville Health, Nashville Tree Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and Hands on Nashville also contribute to the campaign’s efforts by serving on its Advisory Committee. With the right team in place, Root Nashville unveiled its mission to plant 500,000 trees across Davidson County by 2050. Although a firm believer that all trees are good trees, the types of trees planted through Root Nashville’s campaign include solely native and adapted trees to the area such as oaks, magnolias, sugar maples, red buds as well as a wide variety of fruit trees. Each of these trees must be one-inch caliper meaning that at shoulder height they have a minimum diameter of one inch. Not only will this ensure the survivability of the tree, it will also provide increased environmental and health benefits. Having an abundant tree population has many environmental benefits such as helping with air quality, water run off reduction, city beautification, and shade. However, some not so obvious benefits include ones that are directly related to public health. For example, trees have been linked to reduced rates of childhood asthma and studies have shown that even just having trees visible from a window at school can help students recover faster from academic stressors such as test taking.
To date, over 5,000 trees have been planted through the Root Nashville campaign with tree plantings expected to ramp up during Fall and Winter months. There are a multitude of ways to get involved and Root Nashville needs the help of companies, organizations, individuals, and the community as a whole to meet their goal. Through Root Nashville’s website supporters can go online and pledge to plant a tree during the upcoming planting season which falls between October and March. You can also volunteer through the tree care program by watering and pruning newly planted trees to ensure they have a solid foundation in their early and most tender first years. Sponsorships of tree plantings as well as monetary donations can also be made to Root Nashville if physically planting or caring for the trees is not an option. Lastly, there is an opportunity to serve as an ambassador for Root Nashville and its efforts by spreading the word to your networks via social media and word of mouth. “No matter where you are or what you’re doing there’s a way for you to get plugged in and learn more. I want everyone to know that trees benefit all Nashvillians and we want to make sure everyone has access to these benefits” comments Root Nashville Campaign Manager, Meg Morgan.
Looking toward the future, Nashvillians can get excited about being able to gift a tree to that hard to shop for person in their life or in honor of a loved one as well as employment opportunities through the creation of “green collar jobs” that will result from having more trees throughout Davidson County. Morgan puts it best when she describes the tangible impact of Root Nashville we have to look forward to in years to come: “I love that this work is going to outlive all of us. I think that planting a tree truly is an investment in the future because it’s thinking ahead. It’s going to be a greater investment and have even more benefits 10 years from now than it will today.”
Those that are interested in seeing where trees are being planted throughout Middle Tennessee have the ability to track Root Nashville’s progress via an online mapping tool called Treeplotter on their website. To learn more visit Root Nashville’s website at www.rootnashville.org or their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @root_nashville.
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