Small trees are ready to be planted in an open city lot.

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Treesilience Program Launches in St. Louis

A tree health and youth green jobs program kicks-off with a tree removal and replanting demonstration in North St. Louis County

The official kick-off for the Treesilience St. Louis program will take place on Thursday, December 2, from 1:30-3:00pm in the 6200 block of Reichman Ave. in Pine Lawn. Project partners from The Nature Conservancy, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, Beyond Housing and Davey Tree Expert Company will be onsite to talk about the new program.

Initially piloted in Chicago, IL, the Treesilience program will address dead, dying and hazardous trees on private land and the restoration of tree canopy through data-driven tree plantings of interested homeowners within the 24:1 Community in North St. Louis County, and subsequently on public land in the City of St. Louis. The program will also work with Forest ReLeaf of Missouri’s Canopy Crew, hiring local youth to advance the program’s goals and increase green jobs training opportunities in the region.

“Engaging youth in meaningful work is at the heart of our Canopy Crew. For many youth, it may be their first experience really seeing trees and understanding their importance in the landscape,” explained Rebecca Hankins, Partnership Coordinator at Forest ReLeaf. “The crew will learn how to assess tree health and will have opportunities to work with various experts in the green industry gaining an understanding of the diverse careers out there.”

While the St. Louis region is experiencing a great deal of canopy loss due to the Emerald Ash Borer, the costs of tree removal are prohibitive for many homeowners, and standing dead trees continue to pose threats to homes and people as major weather events continue to increase due to climate change.

“A healthy urban tree canopy means better air quality for our residents, which reduces rates of asthma. It helps save money on heating and cooling bills. It reduces the heat island effect and makes being outdoors more pleasant in the summer. It makes our neighborhoods safer and more attractive,” said Chris Krehmeyer, President and CEO of Beyond Housing. “All of these benefits are part of a comprehensive approach to strengthening our community.”

Dead, dying or hazardous trees will be removed by Davey Tree Expert Company, and new trees will be replanted by Forest ReLeaf’s team in the fall. For every tree removed, the team will replant two trees with a goal of 100 new trees planted. Additional trees for planting on public land including schools and churches can be requested through Forest ReLeaf of Missouri’s free tree giveaway program.

“Treesilience aims to improve the St. Louis tree canopy through meaningful collaboration with neighbors and input from local, regional and national partners – each bringing their expertise and community connections to the process,” says Rebecca Weaver, cities program manager for The Nature Conservancy in Missouri.

A goal of the program is to work with and prioritize communities that are disproportionately affected by urban heat island impacts, air quality challenges, flood risk and increased tree insects/diseases pressure. It also aims to prioritize zip codes, neighborhoods and block groups that have higher rates of child and/or adult asthma and asthma-related hospitalizations, since trees help play an important role in cleaning and filtering our air.

Funding for this program is made possible by an Urban Forest Resilience grant from the National Association of State Foresters and a Landscape Scale Restoration grant from the USDA Forest Service.

Additional Details:

  • The Treesilience kick-off event is Thursday, Dec. 2, from 1:30-3pm.
  • Local residents and community leaders are invited to attend.
  • Tree removal work begins at 8am.
  • Remarks from project partners will begin at 2pm with a tree planting ceremony at 2:15pm.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

About Forest ReLeaf of Missouri:
Forest ReLeaf of Missouri operates the only nonprofit community-assisted tree nursery in the region. Since our inception in 1993, more than 200,000 trees have been planted throughout Missouri and Illinois. Forest ReLeaf is a catalyst for restoring and sustaining our urban forests, with the help of thousands of volunteers. Our mission is to plant trees and enrich communities.

Everyone in Missouri has access to free 3-gallon trees through Project CommuniTree, our popular program that provides thousands of free trees for public planting across the state. To learn more about Forest ReLeaf and Project CommuniTree, visit www.moreleaf.org.

About Beyond Housing:
Beyond Housing is a nationally recognized community development organization that works to strengthen families and transform underserved communities to create a stronger, more equitable, and prosperous St. Louis region for all.

Our comprehensive model is built on the understanding that strengthening families and transforming underserved communities isn’t simple—it’s complex and requires a comprehensive, multi-pronged effort. Over the years, we have created the infrastructure of staff, partners, programs, and relationships that is essential for fulfilling our comprehensive model in order to create a stronger St. Louis—once and for all.

Our work brings civic leaders, targeted nonprofits, corporate partners, and residents together to create meaningful and lasting change that strengthens communities and the greater St. Louis region for generations to come. To learn more, visit https://www.beyondhousing.org.