Aerial view of Orlando

Yards in Orlando, Florida, are getting greener and shadier – thanks to the city.

In partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, Orlando offers free trees to every city resident. People select a species that is native to Florida – such as bald cypresses, red maples, and persimmons.

Castro: “We deliver them a tree to their door in a box, that’s a sapling about three to four feet tall.”

Chris Castro is director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and Resilience. He says trees can make neighborhoods more beautiful and even improve public safety.

Castro: “They have so many benefits … lowering of crime in neighborhoods with healthy tree canopies, lowering speeds for people who drive down roads with tree canopies.”

He says planting trees is especially important as the climate changes. They absorb and store carbon, slow stormwater runoff, and provide shade during Orlando’s hot summer months.

Castro says with this and other programs, the city’s goal is to increase Orlando’s tree canopy to 40 percent, up from 25 percent two years ago.

Castro: “It’s not an easy thing, but we feel that we can engage our residents unlike ever before and truly help achieve these goals.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: Michael Adams on Wikimedia (cropped).