This past month, Keep Akron Beautiful officially launched a new initiative aimed at preventing further loss of Akron's tree canopy. Planting Change: 100K Trees for Akron will engage private property owners (commercial and residential) on the importance of maintaining Akron's urban forest while assisting them in planting new trees. 

Akron is losing its trees at an alarming rate. In the last decade, Akron fell from 40% canopy coverage to 34%. On average, we lose 6,540 trees annually. If nothing is done to stop this trend, Akron will lose another 100,000+ trees by 2040, falling to 30% canopy coverage. Why are we losing so many trees? Based on a study done by Davey Tree in 2020, three main culprits emerged. First was the sewer project in Akron. EPA-mandated projects required the city to deforest areas to make way for concrete stormwater infrastructure. Second, climate change is accelerating the death of mature trees in Akron. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, private property owners are cutting their mature trees down and not replacing them. Certainly White Pond is a prime example of this, but we cannot let ourselves off the hook. Homeowners removing trees are just as impactful to our current predicament as clear cutting forested lands for development. 

Why should we care about Akron's trees? Trees are the lungs of our city. They clean the air we breathe and capture CO2 emissions. Trees regulate water flow in the city, capturing millions of gallons of stormwater every year. In areas with good canopy coverage, trees cool whole neighborhoods, reducing household expenses from air conditioning use. A healthy urban forest increases biodiversity, acting as a home for hundreds of species. Lastly, study after study have shown urban forests improve physical and mental wellbeing while also contributing positively to property values.  

Why can't the city just handle this problem? The city is doing all it can. Across three mayoral administrations, the city's commitment to do its part has been unwavering. The city is replacing every tree it cuts down for a sewer project with two other trees planted elsewhere. Recently, with help from a federal grant, the city is launching its own tree nursery on Theiss Rd. Every available spot for a street tree is being filled. However, the fact remains that the city does not have enough land or money to stop Akron's tree loss. It requires all of us chipping in. 

Planting Change offers simple, effective ways for each and every resident to get involved. Keep Akron Beautiful will help you plant a tree on your property. If you can't stand trees but want to help, you can donate to Keep Akron Beautiful and they will plant a tree somewhere else in Akron on your behalf. If you're a business in Akron, Keep Akron Beautiful will help you engage. There is no wrong door through Planting Change. Please consider engaging in this important initiative. 

"Unless someone like you, cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." -Dr. Seuss, The Lorax