Tree Management Program Evaluation ReportLaurel, Mississippi, USA
Situated in the Pine Belt region of southeast Mississippi, the City of Laurel (“the City”, “Laurel”) is proud of its 37- year history of being recognized as a Tree City USA, the longest a city in Mississippi has held that title from the Arbor Day Foundation. The City’s urban forest, consisting of tree-lined streets, natural areas and parks, as well as the trees in parking lots and around buildings, plays an important role in the community and provides numerous benefits to its residents. Embarking on this Tree Management Program Evaluation Report (“Report”), the City of Laurel has determined this important resource should be properly cared and planned for to ensure future
generations will continue to live in a beautiful and vibrant city well into the future.
The City of Laurel, in commencing this Report, has decided that a healthy, thriving, and resilient urban forest benefitting all citizens can only be built upon a comprehensive understanding of this essential infrastructure. The goal of this report is a sustainable urban forest, one that enhances the benefits of trees while supporting City staff in the maintenance and care of Laurel’s urban forest. Achieving this goal requires proper management, sustainable funding, adequate staffing, effective policies, and maintenance activities consistent with arboricultural best practices.
Of the many benefits provided by the City’s urban forest, some are directly identifiable and quantifiable, while others are experienced. Recently, urban forests have been recognized as key elements to mitigating the effects of climate change by helping cities adapt to increasing temperatures and other impacts of a changing climate. The City’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2014, recognized that “the protection of natural resources is a vital component in improving and sustaining the overall quality of life in a community” and recommended developing “overlay districts, where appropriate, that require design and landscaping standards that will enhance major corridors or employment centers within the city.”
Building on these past efforts, this Report aims to provide much needed training and program recommendations as well as a first-time assessment of baseline tree data through a Citywide canopy coverage assessment and onthe-ground sample inventory of park trees. With this, the City’s legacy as the oldest Tree City USA in the state continues to grow and recognizes that caring for this asset is an important part of maintaining a sustainable, and dynamic city for generations to come.
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Urban Forestry Goals
URBAN FORESTRY PROGRAM GOAL
THE CITY IS ADEQUATELY STAFFED, TRAINED, AND STRUCTURED TO PROVIDE HIGHER LEVELS OF SERVICE, SUPPORTED THROUGH POLICY, RESULTING IN A HEALTHY URBAN FOREST EQUITABLY BENEFITING THE CITIZENS OF LAUREL.
TREE MAINTENANCE GOAL
LAUREL PROACTIVELY MANAGES THE PUBLIC TREES, CONTINUES TO GROW AND EXPAND A HEALTHY CANOPY, EFFECTIVELY MITIGATES RISK, AND OPTIMIZES URBAN FOREST BENEFITS.
TREE PLANTING GOAL
THE CITY OF LAUREL MAINTAINS ITS CURRENT TREE CANOPY COVER THROUGH A NO-NET-LOSS APPROACH AND CONTINUES TO PLANT TREES THAT ARE RESILIENT TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND OTHER RISKS RESULTING IN AN EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF TREE CANOPY AND ASSOCIATED BENEFITS.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT GOAL
SUSTAINABLE URBAN FOREST MANAGEMENT AND EQUITY IS ACHIEVED THROUGH A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE CITY AND ITS RESIDENTS RESULTING IN IMPROVED WELL-BEING, HUMAN HEALTH, AND LOCAL ECONOMIES.