Root Nashville’s Plans to Develop Urban Canopy in Davidson County

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A healthy tree canopy makes urban neighborhoods healthier, but there are some areas in Davidson County where tree cover is sparse. Root Nashville wants to change that.

Root Nashville Campaign Director Meg Morgan says trees can make a big difference in the community: “We need healthy urban tree canopy for healthy waterways. But also for our public health as people, we say all the time that you need trees to have a healthy population for the air quality benefits for local temperature lowering and for so many other reasons.

Root Nashville is a public-private partnership between Metro and The Cumberland River Compact. Their goal is to plant half a million trees in Davidson County by 2050, and they want to make sure they go to the areas that need them the most.

“We’re really focused on creating a more equitable distribution of trees because we were talking about all these different benefits that trees bring, but they’re not evenly distributed across Nashville,” Morgan says.

Neighborhoods with the most sparse tree canopies include North and South Nashville, and there’s a historical reason for this inequality in tree distribution.

“Wealthier neighborhoods have more trees. And much of that goes back to the practice in the 1930s and 1940s by the federal government called redlining, where certain neighborhoods in certain areas were marked as junk investment. They were very literally drawn in red. And they were majority black communities at the time,” says Morgan.

The effects of these policies are still visible in Nashville’s urban canopy, but Root Nashville is working to add trees to these historically underserved areas.

“To make it as easy as possible, to restore our canopy, we provide trees totally free for people’s gardens,” says Morgan. “This is done through a program called the Neighborhood Planting Captain program. You become a captain for your neighborhood, you receive a certain number of trees, and then your job is just to tell your neighbors, hey, we have free trees for our neighborhood.

The tree planting season runs from mid-October to March. Root Nashville recommends registering now so you’ll be ready to plant by fall. More information on registration can be found on the Root Nashville website.

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