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Urban Forestry


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The Urban Forestry Program at the City of Jacksonville strives to provide the community with a healthy urban forest. Urban Forestry is the practice of managing single trees, tree populations, and all associated vegetation making up the crucial portion of a city’s green infrastructure. Just as engineers and city planners manage the roads and bridges in your community, your Urban Foresters and City Arborists manage the trees in the City of Jacksonville. The Urban Forestry Team achieves these goals by maintaining the tree canopy in a city, planting new trees, conducting research, and working with the local community in order to maximize the benefits that the City receives from our urban forest. These benefits include reducing urban heat island effect, reducing stormwater runoff, filtering the air we breathe, providing wildlife habitat, and much more.

July's tree of the month is the common crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, a very popular small, deciduous tree which is abundant throughout the South. The crapemyrtle is a non-native species, originally from Asia, that was brought over in the late 1700s to the United States for its ornamental value. This small, deciduous tree has a beautiful array of showy flowers in the summer months which can be seen now in multiple different variety of colors of pinks, purples, reds, and white. It has been cultivated and bred over the years with over hundreds of different varieties that are commercially available. They are a very hardy tree that can survive and thrive in many different types of conditions which has been the reason it has been widely used as an urban tree throughout the years. With all this being said, the urban forestry team is promoting larger, native shade trees and moving away from the planting of the crape myrtles. Because of the crape myrtle's hardiness, beauty, and overpopluarity, it has been planted in very high numbers across many cities. Jacksonville in particular has around 25% of the street trees that are crape myrtles. The city of Jacksonville's urban forestry team has a goal of a healthy, diverse urban forest. the crape myrtle is a non-native species, and although it has little invasive potential, it is planting in such high numbers by humans that is it now at a very high percentage of our urban forest. Another misconception is the practice of 'topping' crape myrtles that is seen throughout the city, wherein people will cut the top off of the stems of crape myrtles. this is not a good practice and before pruning a crape myrtle, homeowner's should look up resources for proper pruning techniques. For additional information on the practice of over planting of the crape myrtle, find this paper written by our associate urban forest Todd Little here:
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Request your 630-CITY trees today!
If you have space on the City right of way and would like the City of Jacksonville to plant new trees please call 630-CITY or request through the online portal and our urban foresters will reach out to you.
Jacksonville awarded two accolades from Florida Urban Forestry Council
The City of Jacksonville's Urban Forestry Program was awarded the Outstanding Professional Award for Richard Leon, Jacksonville's Urban Forestry Manager, as well as the Outstanding Project for the 630-CITY Tree Planting Project.
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Tree Sapling

Richard Leon - Full BioRichard Leon - Full Bio
Urban Forestry Manager
“The most rewarding part of my job is enhancing the environment as well as the quality of life for the residents of Duval County by incorporating the natural world into the man-built world through proper urban forest management and planning.”
Dalton Smith - Full BioDalton Smith - Full Bio
Urban Forester
"Just as a forest is comprised of many different trees to thrive, our urban forestry team brings together multiple disciplines in order to create a knowledgeable team and healthy urban forest."
Kathleen McGovern - Full BioKathleen McGovern - Full Bio
City Arborist
"Reversing deforestation is complicated; planting a tree is simple." – Martin O’Malley
Todd Little - Full BioTodd Little - Full Bio
Associate Urban Forester
As an urban forester, my job is to help the people of our city understand the significant benefits trees provide to us while also giving the trees a chance to provide these benefits. My goal is to help people understand that street trees are not a "nice thing to have" but instead a necessity to the lives of us humans, as well as those plants and animals that we share this urban ecosystem with.