Keeping it green: Atlanta City Council tackles city's tree canopy

The Atlanta City Council approved legislation Monday to establish and maintain a 50% tree canopy throughout the city. 

"As a native, you want to give your children and grandchildren the Atlanta you enjoyed, and the Atlanta I enjoyed was very green, very lush, full of trees," Council member Michael Julian Bond said. 

Bond is one of twelve sponsors of the resolution passed Monday.

"What that means is as we move forward in the continuing development of our new tree ordinance, that we have the policies and laws in place to make sure we're protecting our tree canopy," he explained.

The city is already close to that 50% goal. The most recent study by Georgia Tech in 2018 found the tree canopy at 46.5%, but that's down about 1.5% from 2008. 

The goal is to ensure trees do not come down at the expense of new construction as the city continues to grow.

"So, that we're not clear-cutting trees. That we're asking developers to try and save as many trees on their developable property, whether that's multifamily, whether that's a commercial business, or a home, that they try to save as many trees as possible," Bond said.

Trees have been found to have a big impact in urban areas by keeping pavement cooler and removing air pollutants.

"It affects our quality of life in the most direct individual sense by providing oxygen for people

"We've been lucky over the last decade or so, that we have as much tree canopy as we do, but we're going to be intentional about maintaining it," he added. 

The legislation also calls for the Department of City Planning to conduct a study every five years to make sure that 50% tree canopy is being maintained.