Melinda Housholder, Director of Urban Forest Programs

In June, I visited Nashville, one of the five cities chosen for our new Community ReLeaf program and had the pleasure of meeting with Jennifer Smith, who works with the Metro Landscape Coordination Program, to discuss the future of our project in the city.

Nashville skyline

Nashville skyline. Credit: Kyle Simourd

The more I work on Community ReLeaf, the more I continue to learn that there are a lot of really great greening initiatives starting to happen in Nashville! In 2008, Mayor Karl Dean created the Green Ribbon Committee on Environmental Sustainability in order to make Nashville “the greenest and most livable city in the Southeast.” With all these great initiatives, their urban forest efforts are really starting to take off.

While the Nashville urban forest canopy played an inspirational role in my youth growing up there, this is not the reason the city was chosen to be one of our 2013 Community ReLeaf projects. Nashville is a city that is expected to exponentially grow in size over the next few years. At its current growth rate, Nashville will be home to approximately two million residents by 2020. One can only imagine the changes to the urban landscape that this will bring! Additionally, Nashville has recently suffered the effects of climate change: In only a few days in early May 2010, rainfall exceeded 17 inches, the highest amount in more than 140 years of recorded history, resulting in an estimated $2 billion in damages to the city.

With thanks to the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, we are excited to be working in Nashville this year to help the city move its urban forest forward, to better understand how trees can help mitigate the impact of climate change effects like floods and to help plan for the future of the city.