City Tree Planting Program

Why Our Tree Planting Program Matters

Trees provide many benefits to Durham residents such as increased shade, improved air quality, reduced noise pollution, reduced stormwater runoff, increased aesthetics, improved mental wellbeing, wildlife habitat, and much more.

Some of these ecosystem services are now quantifiable. According to our street tree inventory, Durham’s street trees provide $674,605 (2020 estimate) in annual benefits to the community as indicated in the table to the right. 

In addition to the benefits our street trees provide, the U.S. Forest Services’ iTree Cover Assessment and Tree Benefits Report determined that trees in our City parks, cemeteries, and medians provide over $1.4 million in ecosystem services annually (2020 estimate).

It is therefore important to have a successful tree planting program to ensure that these benefits are provided to both present and future Durham residents.

Learn more about our program on Bull City Today:

List of annual eco benefits provided by trees

Caption: Estimated ecosystem benefits of Durham’s street trees according to the City’s Tree Inventory software.

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Tree Planting Program Summary

The City of Durham has a goal to plant 1,500 new street trees every year through 2025. The main purpose of this goal is to maintain and increase street tree canopy throughout Durham, especially in historically underserved and low-tree canopy neighborhoods. 

Durham’s tree planting goal is based on a Tree Canopy Assessment that was conducted by Savatree and the University of Vermont in 2017. The assessment recommended that the City plant 1,500 street trees per year in order to maintain and increase street tree canopy in Durham. 

In addition to the 2017 Canopy Assessment, a Tree Planting Prioritization study was conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2018. This study identified eight census neighborhood groups that could benefit the most from street trees through increased shade and walkability, reduced air pollution, and targeted benefits to disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. 

The City determined that 85% of the 1,500 new street trees we plant each year will be going into these EPA identified priority neighborhoods with the intent of increasing environmental equity in Durham. The remaining 15% of tree plantings will be prioritized based upon replacement of unhealthy trees as well as resident requests, site suitability, and logistical concerns.

Map showing priority neighborhoods for project

Caption: This 2018 Tree Planting Prioritization Map was provided to the City of Durham by the U.S. EPA outlining eight Census Block Neighborhood Groups where we should focus our tree planting efforts.

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Thank you To our Tree Planting Project Contributors

The success of our tree planting program is made possible through the support and contributions from the following organizations:

Learn More

  1. FAQs
  2. Educational Materials
Streetside Unplanted Trees
Augur Drilling Hole
Streetside Planted Trees
Downtown New Trees
Durham Central Park Trees
Durham Central Park Tree Planting