Gainesville approves Urban Forest Management Plan

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 6:30 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A new plan is underway to help secure and manage urban forests in Gainesville.

The Gainesville city commission approved the Urban Forest Management Plan which provides a comprehensive method to protect urban forests in the city.

UF professors and environmentalists initiated an inventory of the forests in the area and produced the document back in 2016 with the help of input from the community.

Dr. Michael Andreu, UF associate professor for the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, said the plan provides economic, ecological and health benefits to the area by reducing the heat island effect of urbanization, providing recreation, and attracting businesses.

“Some people think urban forests are just about aesthetics and maybe there aren’t things that are super important for a city but in fact urban forests are essential to the health and welfare of the city and the people that live within it,” Andreu said.

The document has a 20-year urban forest strategic plan where commissioners can revisit every five years to make sure they stay on track.

“It’s very important that the cities make sure that they include the management of the trees in the city in the same way that they think about managing the streets, the sewer systems, the electrical distribution systems,” Andreu said. “The urban forest is very integral for the functioning of a city.”

According to the city’s Urban Forest Ecological Analysis, Gainesville has a 47% tree canopy cover which is higher than Orlando, Tampa, and Miami.

A tree canopy cover is used to quantify the amount of land under and around trees.

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