Orange County Receives 16th Straight Tree City USA Designation
In celebration of State Arbor Day, Orange County is sharing its recent recognition by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA for its 16th consecutive year. The Tree City USA program celebrates towns and cities’ growing commitment to increasing their urban tree canopy and demonstrating higher levels of tree care and community engagement during the calendar year.
The Tree City USA designation allows the necessary framework for communities to manage and expand their tree cover, which represents an effective solution to a variety of urban issues. Having the designation also creates a spirit of pride among County residents, who want to know their local government cares about the environment and shows it is doing its part.
“Trees provide effective and low-cost solutions to a myriad of urban challenges, including reducing pollution, removing carbon dioxide from the air and reducing energy costs for home owners.,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “Most importantly, residents and visitors alike enjoy being in an aesthetically pleasing environment with tree cover and green space as a measure of quality of life.”
In 2022, Orange County planted over 2,500 trees and gave away more than 1,000 Florida-friendly trees to homeowners, and it continues the work in 2023 with ambitious goals to increase and protect tree canopies outlined in the County’s Sustainable Operations & Resilience Action Plan. This will be coupled with a tree ordinance that supports the conservation of pre-existing trees in new developments.
Future planning and funding for trees includes planting a minimum of 10,000 Florida-Friendly trees by the end of FY23 through current and enhanced programs, creating a shared Geographic Information System (GIS) layer of trails, parks and natural lands to identify shade-deficient areas, and prioritizing health and wellness benefits while providing equitable access to trees and green space in deficient areas.
“It’s all about providing for effective and measurable outcomes,” said Kevin Camm, County Extension Director, UF/IFAS Extension Orange County. “We’re walking the walk, and we’re seeing more compassion when it comes to preserving and enhancing our urban canopy. People in this community care about trees.”
Camm stressed that several Orange County divisions deserve credit for this recognition, including, but not limited to, Zoning, Facilities, Public Works, Parks & Recreation and Environmental Protection. With dozens of tree planting, care and maintenance initiatives, as well as volunteer programs and policy efforts, the County has made preserving and enhancing its urban canopy a priority.
“As we celebrate Florida Arbor Day, we see where we are with our urban tree canopy and what our residents ultimately want,” said Carrie Black, Orange County Chief Sustainability and Resiliency Officer. “We need more trees and protections, and we’re answering that need through policy development and ambitious goals for the new year.”
For more information on protecting, restoring and improving our tree canopy, go to Urban Forestry.