Tree Task Force advocates for more trees in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The Tree Task Force will show its support for Columbia to conduct an Urban Forestry Master Plan at the city council meeting on Monday. They hope to get council members on board. 

The Urban Forest Master Plan provides detailed information, recommendations, and resources needed in order to expand the city's tree cover. Urban forestry involves the care and management of trees in an urban setting with the purpose of improving the urban environment.

"The goal of an Urban Forest Master Plan is to create a tool for the city to efficiently and cost-effectively maintain and enhance its urban forest," Chair of the Columbia Tree Task Force Anna Koenig stated in a letter to members of the Columbia City Council.

The letter also stated that trees create greener and more vibrant neighborhoods, contribute to a more walkable city, remove pollutants from the air and water, and also reduce heating and cooling bills. Urban forests also return millions of dollars each year in benefits according to Koenig.

MU professor of Urban Wildlife Management Charles Nilon said buildings and concrete in urban environments create a "heat island" where heat radiates off the buildings and on to the street. Trees help reduce the heat and keep areas shaded.

The Tree Task Force wanted to develop an Urban Forest Master Plan because Koenig said Columbia has not had a plan to manage or enhance its urban forest, and the management of the forestry was inefficient.

"I think it's necessary, and I think what the city recognizes is that the city had been very good about managing trees on their private land, and I think now they are trying to be more proactive in managing the city owned trees on public property which include basically the areas that border all of the city streets." Nilon said.

Nilon also said many other cities have urban forestry plans and he thinks people in Columbia are trying to step up and be more proactive and focus on tree care.

Tree Task Force member Josh Behounek is also set to voice his support for the creation for an Urban Forest Master Plan during the public comment portion of the meeting.