Mayor Eric Garcetti oversaw a “tree summit” Friday in Elysian Park on the occasion of Arbor Day and moderated a panel of city foresters from across the Western United States.
Garcetti said he is prioritizing reinvestment in the city’s trees, including the planting of tens of thousands more over the next few years.
“Trees make our air cleaner, our communities healthier and our neighborhoods more beautiful,” Garcetti said. “We’ll breathe new life into the city — and create 2,000 middle-class jobs — by finally restoring our urban forestry division to pre-recession levels, and planting 90,000 trees across Los Angeles over the next three years.”
The event comes as Los Angeles leaders have been putting a bigger focus on the city’s urban forest. City Controller Ron Galperin released a report in February on ways the city can better care for its street trees, including the creation of an online, citywide street tree inventory and implementation of a centralized tracking system.
Galperin’s report came several months after another one commissioned by City Plants, a nonprofit organization overseeing a public-private partnership between the city and six other nonprofit organizations, concluded that trees are not valued in city budgets and planning. It also found that urban forest budgets are far below necessary levels and an estimated budget increase of $40 million to $50 million is needed to manage the urban forest at a sustainable level.
Urban Foresters from cities including Portland, San Francisco, Honolulu, Santa Monica, Sacramento and Beverly Hills were on Friday’s panel, which also included experts from nonprofits and other stakeholders who shared best practices and new concepts.
“Trees aren’t just a climate change issue,” Board of Public Works Vice President Commissioner Cecilia Cabello said. “Trees are an equity issue. Strategic investments we make Friday in trees will provide much needed canopy in under-shaded and under-served areas of our city Saturday.”
A report on the outcomes of the summit will be integrated into the Urban Forest Management Plan, according to the Department of Public Works, noting that the most crucial next steps will be to complete a tree inventory, revise policies to protect trees and integrate trees into infrastructure projects across the city.
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