Trees Atlanta is a non-profit citizens' group in Atlanta, Georgia, United States that seeks to plant, preserve, and protect the city's trees. The group employs a full-time staff of tree-care professionals and maintains an extensive network of volunteers, who work together to enrich the city's quality of life through both beautification and improved air quality.
The group's main activities include planting new trees throughout the city, maintaining the health of the city's existing and dwindling forest, restoring and conserving large tracts of urban greenspace, and educating the public about the importance of trees.
Since being founded in 1985 as a business-district beautification organization, Trees Atlanta has planted and distributed over 100,000 shade trees. The organization relies on its regular volunteer base of over 4,500—as well as its contractors—to plant and maintain trees throughout Atlanta (inside I-285).
Trees Atlanta offers a wide range of programs and services for people who have a passion for trees and conservation. Trees Atlanta has volunteer opportunities nearly every Saturday year-round, from 9:00 AM – 12 noon. Projects include tree planting, tree care, and forest restoration projects (depending on the time of year). All ages are welcome to participate in tree projects; volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Trees Atlanta Timeline, 1985-2014
1985: Trees Atlanta is founded, hires first Executive Director, Marcia Bansley
1986: Urban Trees Program Begins (Contractor Tree Planting)
1990: Trees Atlanta’s Volunteer Program Begins
1992: Kick-off for multi-million dollar Olympic Downtown Improvement Project
1996: 318 trees are planted in and around Centennial Olympic Park
1997: “Trees for Atlanta” Capital Campaign raises $2.4 million
1999: Trees Atlanta helps save Morningside Nature Preserve
2000: Trees Atlanta helps save Connally Nature Park
2002: “Dreamers Park” created next to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, supported by The Kendeda Fund
2002: Volunteer Program officially renamed “NeighborWoods”
2003: Forest Restoration Program begins
2005: Neighborhood Arboretum Program begins
2007: “Putting Down Roots” Capital Campaign raises nearly $5.5 million
2007: Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Concept Plan developed; implementation begins
2008: Education Program Officially Begins
2008: New headquarters opens at the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center
2009: LEED Platinum Certification for Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center
2010: Happy 25th Anniversary Trees Atlanta!
2011: Marcia Bansley retired after 26 years of leadership, and Connie Veates and Greg Levine are named Co-Executive Directors of Trees Atlanta
2012: Planting of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum begins on the Eastside Trail
2013: Trees Atlanta is awarded 2013 Member Organization of the Year by EarthShare of Georgia
2014: Trees Atlanta celebrates planting 100,000 trees since 1985, and hosts The Root Ball presented by The Southeast Permanente Medical Group
Trees Atlanta Programs
It is difficult to overstate the importance of a vibrant tree canopy featuring healthy native species of trees. Preserving and expanding the canopy of metro Atlanta has been the objective of Trees Atlanta since its founding, and the NeighborWoods program is an essential component of that mission.
Trees Atlanta partners with neighborhoods across Metro Atlanta to plant native species, raise awareness about the benefits of trees, and create a core group of tree advocates. NeighborWoods is a collaborative effort to replenish and sustain the tree canopy, while also educating the community on tree care and management.
Started in 2001, NeighborWoods provides communities with necessary tools and resources to plant new trees, and develops educational programs for core groups of tree advocates. In just over a decade, NeighborWoods projects have planted thousands of trees in neighborhoods all across metro Atlanta. Trees Atlanta staff members work with volunteers to select the best trees for a given project, help arrange the necessary funding, schedule the plantings, develop educational training programs, and offer support for ongoing care and preservation.
Trees Atlanta hopes to restore forests to optimal health by removing invasive species and replanting those that are native to our environment. The Forest Restoration Program includes educational programs, community-based removal projects, contractor spraying and removal, and organized replanting events. Trees Atlanta has hosted two Forest Restoration conferences in recent years, and produced a greenspace manual designed to guide citizens through evaluating, protecting, and improving their community greenspaces.
Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum
The Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum will evolve into a twenty-two mile long horticultural collection. This one-of-a-kind linear expanse provides botanical connectivity among the neighborhoods along the Atlanta BeltLine, while showcasing unique natural characteristics within each community. Neighborhoods near the Arboretum will be identifiable by the surrounding trees, and visitors will be able to develop a better appreciate for the value of trees in an urban environment. The exact number of trees planted will depend on space available, but the conceptual plan proposes several thousand trees. The Arboretum will be built over the next two decades, similar to the Atlanta BeltLine itself.
Parts of the Arboretum are already open, such as the 2.5 mile stretch of the Eastside Trail, which goes from Irwin Avenue to Monroe Drive. Trees Atlanta hosts free walking tours along the Arboretum, and Atlanta visitors and residents are invited to sign up to attend. These walking tours are led by expertly-trained Trees Atlanta Docents and explore the Eastside Trail, focusing on the horticultural collections, native trees, architectural interests, key historical stories, and other interesting facts about the Atlanta BeltLine. The tour takes approximately 90 minutes and begins from a trailhead in the Inman Park neighborhood at 10:00 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. Be sure to take advantage of this free walking tour, which is offered all year so you can experience every season of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum with an expert docent.
Each year, Trees Atlanta teams with Atlanta Arbor Day partners to search for the champion trees for the year. A champion tree is determined based on measurements of the tree's trunk circumference, its height, and the average spread of the crown. Atlanta residents submit nominations of trees that they think should be champions in their species, and then the Atlanta Arbor Day team reviews qualifying nominees. In March, a certified arborist conducts measurements on all finalists. These trees represent some of the oldest, heartiest, and most beautiful trees Atlanta has to offer.
Atlanta's Champion Trees are a small sampling of the hundreds of beautiful tree species found across the country. For more than 70 years, a national database has maintained records for over 750 Champion Trees across the country. The objective is to locate, document, and then protect the finest specimens so they can be appreciated and enjoyed, and also serve as reminders about the importance of such trees for a healthy environment.
One of the primary objectives of Trees Atlanta is the education of the community on the value and importance of trees. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to introduce programs to our youth so that they may adopt an early appreciation for their natural surroundings. Trees Atlanta offers several programs tailored to various age groups, and all designed to foster a better understanding of, and respect for, our urban forest.
Trees Atlanta offers several workshops to continue education on tree stewardship. Not on are each and every planting project which take place on Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 12 noon an opportunity for learning, Trees Atlanta also offers pruning classes, tree walks, the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Walking Tour, speaker events, the TreeKeepers certification program, and the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Docent Program. Find out more at the website.
- "History of Trees Atlanta". TreesAtlanta.org. Trees Atlanta. Archived from the original on 2012-01-30. Retrieved 2012-01-30.