ABOVE PHOTO: Two Tree Tender volunteers pose with one of their plantings. ( Photo/Pennsylvania Horticultural Society)
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has announced it will collaborate with more than 80 of its PHS Tree Tenders groups plus community organizations and neighborhood volunteers to plant over 1,350 trees in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania from November 17-21, 2021.
Through this semi-annual initiative, PHS creates and enhances tree canopy in neighborhoods across the Philadelphia region and helps promote healthier, greener communities.
PHS Tree Tenders is a core component of PHS’s primary areas of impact, including creating healthy living environments and building social connections. The Tree Tenders semi-annual training program offers low-cost education in tree planting/care to individuals and volunteer community groups, primarily in the Philadelphia region as well as worldwide via online training sessions.
PHS has trained more than 5,000 volunteers who have gone on to form community groups that rally neighbors to come together to plant and care for trees.
During PHS’s November 2020 and April 2021 tree planting events, volunteers planted more than 2,000 trees. Since its fruition, PHS Tree Tenders groups have planted over 25,000 trees in their neighborhoods across the region.
Studies have linked increased tree canopy (the area of land shaded by trees) to lower rates of violence and better health outcomes, including reduction in heat-related illness. The US Forest Service researchers estimate that achieving 30% tree canopy would prevent 400 premature deaths per year in Philadelphia. With this statistic in mind, the Greater Philadelphia region still needs more trees.
According to a study conducted in 2018 by The City of Philadelphia and University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab, the region’s tree canopy declined by 6% from 2008-2018, averaging only 20% tree canopy, and with some Philadelphia neighborhoods having as little as 2.5% tree canopy.
Throughout the year, PHS plants and cares for trees and works towards the goal of a healthier urban forest, especially for neighborhoods with low canopy coverage and high average temperatures.
Volunteers are encouraged to find an event in their area and participate in a tree planting, which typically lasts about 2-3 hours on-site. No prior gardening or tree planting experience is required.
Volunteers will also be asked to show proof of vaccination for COVID-19 before registering. A Tree Tenders group leader will be assigned to all planting locations.
Everyone is asked to bring a mask, hand sanitizer, gloves, close-toed shoes, a shovel if you have one, and a water bottle.
Supplies for plantings will be available onsite, including shovels, pickaxes, brooms, trash bags, and more.
Participants are also asked to dress for the weather as plantings will happen rain or shine.
Those interested in volunteering can sign up to help plant trees by visiting: www.PHSonline.org/programs/tree-programs/get-involved, where they can:
1.Visit the map of Fall 2021 Tree Tenders planting events.
2. Find a location that still needs volunteers by clicking the GREEN location pins on the map. Note: some locations have already met the required number of volunteers.
3. Register to volunteer via the link in the pop up.
4. Review the location, date, and time of the event.
5. Click “Sign Up” and follow directions on how to register.
Those interested in the project can also support PHS’s tree planting programs by donating to the 2021 “More Trees Please” campaign. Each spring and fall, PHS works with volunteers across the Greater Philadelphia region to plant trees at little or no cost to residents. Gifts in support of “More Trees Please’’ provide critical funding that supplies the trees, tools, and resources needed to make these plantings possible. Learn more at: www.PHSonline.org/patrees
COVID-19 safety best practices
The safety of PHS volunteers, Tree Tenders leaders, and staff is always PHS’s top priority. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve followed strict best practices for safety by minimizing the risks for everyone involved. These include:
• Requiring all volunteers to show proof of vaccination for COVID-19 upon registering for a tree planting event.
• Following all standard pandemic precautions: Masks, social distancing, and frequent use of hand sanitizer.
• Minimizing the number of people gathered in one space as well as the time they’re gathered there.
• Keeping as much activity as possible outdoors.
• Asking participants to stay home if they have symptoms or have had exposure to someone who does or has been diagnosed.