Over the last several years, Pittsburgh has taken many steps towards becoming a greener city.
And that effort continued Friday in Troy Hill when TreeVitalize Pittsburgh planted its 25,000th tree in the region.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) worked in collaboration with Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Tree Pittsburgh since the re-planting program began in 2008.
“Trees, I think, are something that people can wrap their mind around," said Jeff Bergman, Director of Community Foresting and TreeVitalize at the WPC. “A lot of our environmental problems are complex and seem out of reach to people, but trees are a very straight forward way for people to get involved.”
Over the last several years, TreeVitalize Pittsburgh and its partners have planted trees in local parks, neighborhoods, business districts and along trails in order to increase tree cover, and in turn improve biodiversity and air quality throughout the region. The trees used are generally grown in a nursery and are about 10 to 15 feet when they go into the ground.
“We bring our foresters and our partners together and we work with the communities, and when you plan with the community they are invested in that tree” said Bergman.
In addition to getting input from local communities, Bergman said the organization is constantly collecting data to find out where trees are needed.
“We know where all those places are, where tree canopy is low and the street tree population is low," he said. "We know where there are old trees and unhealthy trees that need to be removed and replaced.”
The tree canopy is the outermost layer of leaves on the tree and covers most of the ground beneath in shade.
Bergman also said tree species is also an important aspect of its work.
“You never want to plant too many of one species, because if you have a pest or disease that comes through, it can really decimate your tree population," he said. "So we have specific diversity requirements when we’re assigning trees. ”