Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

SOUL plant trees and they want you to have a say where to plant them. A good endeavor and one we support.

Sixteen years after Hurricane Katrina decimated the number of trees in New Orleans, the city’s urban canopy has yet to recover. An inventory conducted earlier this year by Quantum Spatial found that, at best, just 20% of New Orleans, not counting the wetlands of Bayou Sauvage, was covered with trees. That’s down from 33% in a U.S. Forest Service survey shortly before the 2005 hurricane. Some tree advocates argue that today’s canopy could be even smaller. In 2010 under Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the administration aimed to have trees cover half the city by 2030, yet little progress has been made. But now an environmental nonprofit is partnering with City Hall to craft a strategic plan for reforestation, incorporating everything from new plantings and ordinance changes to protecting the trees already in the ground. And they want input from the public.

SOUL is having community meetings and wants your input.

Come November, Sustaining Our Urban Landscape, or SOUL, will host seven community meetings, with at least one in each City Council district. Executive Director Susannah Burley said organizers want to hear residents’ personal stories, concerns and vision for the future of the urban forest.  “This plan is New Orleans’ plan, so we need New Orleanians to help shape it,” Burley said. The nonprofit plans to provide free child care and lunch or supper at each meeting. Depending on the species, native trees can alleviate street flooding and absorb rainwater runoff, cool concrete-covered areas, clean the air and capture the greenhouse gases that are making the world hotter, seas higher and storms more intense. Trees can also add to homeowner woes if placed too closed to power lines or a house’s foundation, but Burley said it’s all about placing the right tree in the right place. All of the information gathered during the meetings will go to the Comprehensive Reforestation Plan’s advisory and steering committee members, said Melody Arcia, SOUL’s communications coordinator. “The feedback provided by the public will shape the planting process to align with the goals of the community,” she said.

Pick the meeting site near you:

  • Monday – Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 5914 Canal Blvd., 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday – Loyola University, Miller Hall, Room 114, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday – Camp Restore, 9301 Chef Menteur Highway, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 8 – City Park, Pavilion of Two Sisters, 1 Victory Ave., 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 11 – Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church, 411 N Rampart St., 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 15 – Althea Holmes Center, 300 Ptolemy St., 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 18 – St. Mary of the Angels Roman Catholic Church, 3501 N. Miro St., 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
You have a say in where to place trees
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