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Mayor Keller Announces Plans to Restore Albuquerque’s Urban Forest

Healthy urban forest will benefit Albuquerque’s economy, ecology, and quality of life

Mayor Tim Keller today announced a new effort led by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to help restore Albuquerque’s urban forest. Recent studies show Albuquerque is losing its tree canopy at a rate of nearly one percent every year. With the current canopy cover at less than 10 percent, the loss of the urban forest leaves the city vulnerable to heat and wind, a changing climate, and harsh urban conditions. The City’s forestry program is refocusing its efforts to create an effective and unified program to support a thriving urban forest.

Mayor Keller also issued a challenge to Albuquerque residents to help plant at least one tree for every kid, with the goal of planting 100,000 trees around the city in the next ten years.

“Albuquerque’s trees – from the National Forest to the Bosque and in so many of our beautiful parks – play such a central role in our lives. We camp under them as kids, we picnic under them with our families in parks, we hike and bike among them to keep in shape. But many of our city’s trees are reaching maturity. We are launching a coordinated effort to care for the trees we have and to plant new ones, and I am challenging Albuquerque residents to step up and do their part,” stated Mayor Keller. “Every neighborhood across Albuquerque can enjoy the shade of a lush urban forest and make our city more sustainable and carbon-neutral in the process.”

“New Mexicans live, work, learn, and play every day in the shade of the urban forest,” stated New Mexico State Forester Laura McCarthy. “We’re excited to see the City of Albuquerque leading the way in tackling the important work of taking care of the urban forest, so it can take care of us.”

“We’ve had great success with NeighborWoods. It’s an urban forestry program combined with community-building,” stated City Councilor Isaac Benton. “I look forward to seeing the additional benefits of the reforestation program.”

“Science tells us that tree planting is the best way to clean our air and cool our communities,” adds Sarah Hurteau, Urban Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico. “We’re excited to be part of this collaborative effort to improve our city.”

Recently, a task force made up of City departments, representatives from other public agencies, professional arborists, and urban forest advocates studied the management of Albuquerque’s urban forest. The task force’s work resulted in three primary recommendations to the City to boost its efforts to create a thriving urban forest:

  1. Create a new division within the Parks and Recreation Department to oversee stewardship of all City trees and shrubs;
  2. Develop and implement an Urban Forest Management Plan;
  3. Enact a public engagement and partnership campaign that inspires all Albuquerque residents to participate in tree stewardship.

The Parks and Recreation Department’s City Forester and a newly-created Assistant City Forester will work with local volunteers to complete a tree inventory that identifies the species, location, and current health of trees in City parks and on other City properties. That information will contribute to the development and implementation of an Urban Forest Management Plan that ensures the health of Albuquerque’s urban forest for generations to come. The entire initiative will lead to better overall care of trees on City property, serve as a catalyst for the City and residents to plant more trees, and provide new opportunities for the City to engage with the public about the health of our urban forest and the people who call Albuquerque home.