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Fairfax Supervisors Have Goals to Increase Tree Canopy

by Karen Goff July 3, 2014 at 9:30 am 3 Comments

Planting trees at Walker Nature Center in Reston/file photoThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors hopes that the county will have 5 percent more trees by 2037.

The 30-years goals for the tree canopy are based on recommendations in the Tree Action Plan, funded by the Environmental Improvement Program.

The goal, formally adopted in 2007, is to increase Fairfax County’s tree cover to 45 percent by the year 2037. Currently, the county has 40 percent tree cover. If tree planting efforts are not increased, by 2037 Fairfax could lose approximately 4 percent of its tree canopy cover.

To reach that goal, an additional 2 million trees — an average of 83,740 trees annually — will have to be planted, says the Fairfax County Urban Forest Management Division. However, they point out that if every resident in Fairfax County plants two trees for every member of their household over the next 30 years, the county will exceed its longterm goal.

The county says it is limited by available space. here. There are only 4,200 acres available for tree planting on county-owned properties and commonly-owned open spaces. Therefore, the majority of tree planting required to meet the 30-year tree canopy goal will have to occur on privately-owned residential lots.

Here is what citizens can do to help Fairfax reach its goal:

  • Plant trees on your property.  Plant about 20 feet away from your home on the western exposures for optimum energy conservation.
  • Plant at least one tree per car in your household to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Get involved with community tree planting groups such as Fairfax ReLeaf and Earth Sangha.  For more information, visit www.fairfaxreleaf.org or www.earthsangha.org.
  • Advocate for tree planting on commonly-owned open spaces in your community.
  • Remember that all trees need to be maintained after they are planted. Visit the Virginia Department of Extension for more information about tree planting and maintenance.
  • Be sure to plant the right tree in the right place.  Use the Fairfax County Public Facilities Manual as a guide.
  • Preserve trees during construction.

The Reston Comprehensive Plan Amendment, adopted by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year, says preservation of natural resources, including “use of closely spaced street trees and landscaping in open space areas to increase tree canopy in the  transit station areas,” is a key element of Reston’s future.

Friends of Reston donated 50 trees to the community in honor of Reston’s 50th anniversary. The trees were planted on Arbor Day. Reston is a Tree City USA as certified by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Photo: Tree planting at Walker Nature Center in Reston/file photo



Photo: New trees planted on Fairfax County property/Credit: Fairfax County

  • Mike M

    Most residents don’t know it, but Fairfax has far more tree cover today than seventy five, or even one hundred years ago. If you look at old photos you will see that places that were tree covered in the 1970s had long been clear cut for farming more than a century before.

    I do wonder how much money the County will throw at saving the world. Taxes here are very high. I can see the day when my real estate tax will be much more than my mortgage (principle and interest). Is there any limit to how the County will busy itself and my money? I think not.

  • South Lakes Curmudgeon

    Mike M is right about the increase in tree cover over the last 60 years. With the end of active dairy farming, second growth trees have covered enormous acreage. Many of those trees have reach the end of their life expectancy.

    Blow downs are becoming a hazard for houses. DRB has got to start emphasizing protection of persons and property in their decisions to authorize tree clearing around residential units.

  • JR

    No mention of planting only native species in this article. That is an often overlooked recommendation and is very important. Our local native insects depend on native plant species for food and reproduction. Our native birds depend on the insects for their own food and reproduction and on up the food chain. We should really be promoting native species far more often than I typically see when I read these articles about planting more trees…



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