Sustainable Living: The tree canopy study

Anni Ellis/WMNF

Background on Guest Speakers

Dr. Rebecca Zarger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the USF. Additionally, she is focused on human-environmental relationships intersecting with social inequalities with local ecologies, also climate change, and coastal sustainability.

Dr. Shawn Landry is a Research Associate Professor with the School of Geosciences and Director of the USF Water Institute, at USF. His work also addresses issues related to water, wetlands, urban forest, and land cover change.

Ofscar Nurse Premiere Arborist, is the owner of Nurses Tree Service. He has been a professional in tree care for close to 30 years. His main goal is for the health of trees and will not do a job if it is not ethically right for the tree.

The Tree Canopy Study

We talked to the Doctors about their involvement the recent tree canopy study of the urban forest and remnant native forests ecological analysis. They also discussed the history of it, the impacts trees, and their removal has on our environment. Also, how it can affect our population.

In the early 1970’s, there was a policy made to protect trees from increased construction in Urban environments. This was one of the first in the US. In the 1990’s-2000 there was conflict between developers and tree protectors that escalated. The group working on protections let the builders in 2006, and “Let the Fox in the Hen house”.

The building association put in place a scientific study. Their plan was to evaluate the city policies within the City of Tampa Tree and Natural Resource code. Afterwards in 2021, they put a 5-year cycle that is REQUIRED by City ordinance. This five year cycle will be released sometime late summer or early fall. The urban tree canopy map and the field sampling will correspond to conditions in the year 2021.

The plan shows the Ecological Analysis every five years. After the 2011 study, Rob Northrop organized meetings to develop a tree management plan. The management plan was the purpose of having a study to evaluate and see if the policy of the goal of “No Net Loss of Trees” was met. Currently this system is not being corrected and is not working. To add to that, the 2019 bill passed by DeSantis removed city controls over trees on private property.

Take the survey for the City of Tampa Tree Canopy (available until 8/01)

CS/HB 1159: Private Property Rights

The Private Property Rights law was amended in June 2022 to restrict the person who approves removals to a more qualified, licensed arborist/landscape architect. This still allows for disreputable people to sign off on an actual healthy tree without city involvement.

Tampa’s Urban Forest

Each year, Tampa’s urban forest can reduce 808 tons of air pollutants that cause respiratory problems. The urban forest can eliminate an estimated $4.5 million in health care costs. It can reduce residential building air conditioning and heating costs by $7 million. This can also reduce 50 million cubic feet of storm-water runoff (valued at $3.4 million). The urban forest also stores 865 million tons of carbon in trees and woody shrubs (valued at $112 million) and sequesters 62,000 tons/year of atmospheric carbon by trees and shrubs (valued at $8 million).

Links related to the article:

Landscape and Urban Planning:

Tampa Times article about new tree ordinance

2013 Urban Forest Management Plan

Events happening soon:

HausMarket Plant Pop-Up

Ignacio Haya Linear Park Planting & clean up

Water bath and pressure canning


Rainwater harvesting

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