The Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust initiated an Urban Forestry Program in 1995 to meet the demands of the City's neighborhoods for tree planting and beautification. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provided a $25,000 to launch the program with the planting of trees throughout the neighborhood of Centralville. We recommend this website to learn more about urban forestry Tales from Urban Forests: a radio series on how trees are impacting cities.
In 1996, the Trust initiated a program to plant 2000 trees by the year 2000 ("2000 for 2000") and conducted a city-wide survey of the City's public shade trees. One out of every five city trees was surveyed for species, size, and condition. This groundbreaking study revealed that the City's trees: lacked diversity, were in decline, and needed improved maintenance. This is a common story throughout Massachusetts. In addition to the City's 13,300 publicly owned shade trees, there were found to be 2,400 vacant sites for future tree planting, indicating plenty of need for the new 2000 for 2000 initiative. Finally, the value of the City's urban forest was determined to be $32 million. This represents an investment by the City that needs to be maintained.
With a strong base of support in the City's neighborhoods and armed with the knowledge from the tree survey, the Trust moved forward with enhancing the City's "green infrastructure," becoming a model for other cities to follow. In 1997, Lowell received its first designation as a Tree City USA. By the year 2000 the Trust had exceeded its goal of 2,000 newly planted trees, by planting or providing support for the planting of over 4,000 trees. Since then, our efforts have focused on providing technical assistance on tree projects throughout the City and in developing new policies related to the urban forest, such as the City's new tree ordinance (passed July 9, 2002). TOP
Shade from our downtown trees makes a more enjoyable shopping experience, enticing people to stay downtown longer and support local businesses.
Annually, the Trust applies competitively for support for tree planting through the City's federally funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. Funding through this program has provided trees throughout the city's neighborhoods, improving the streetscape, air quality, property values, and quality of life. Our projects for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 included:
May 2011, twelve first time homebuyers recieved trees from the Trust through our partnership with Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership - Project Genesis.
If you'd like to work with us on a tree planting project in your neighborhood, at a local school, or your favorite park, please Contact Us. We prioritize projects that provide broad public benefit over individual tree plantings on sidewalks. The demand for our assistance is too high to typically meet individual homeowner tree requests, but we do keep a running list of sites in case we get several on one street.
Read an article about urban forestry in Time Magazine: Why Cities are Uprooting Trees.