On Tuesday, Gov.John Carney launched a new program that aims to plant a tree for every Delawarean as part of the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.
The initiative was originally announced in Carney’s 2020 State of the State Address and discussed in Delaware’s Climate Action Plan as a strategy to support urban greenspaces.
Based on 2020 U.S. Census figures, the program would lead to the planting of 989,000 trees.
Continued sprawl and less restrictive land-use policies in the state that come with minimal landscaping requirements have led to the loss of 8.5% of tree cover lost during the past two decades in the nation’s second-smallest state by land area. The loss would have been greater had development restrictions not called for open space around subdivisions.
Also, in many new residential areas homeowners are reluctant to plant trees on larger lots, due to mowing or other considerations.
“Last week, when I announced Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, I said that as the country’s lowest-lying state, climate change is a very real threat to Delaware’s future,” said Carney. “Reducing emissions is essential to our efforts to deal with climate change, and the Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative – TEDI – helps us move forward on accomplishing one of the strategies outlined in the Climate Action Plan.”
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn M. Garvin and Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) Secretary Michael T. Scuse joined Governor Carney, Lt. Governor Hall-Long, state and county officials, and stakeholders at a tree planting at Lieutenant Szczerba Memorial Park in New Castle to help launch the program. The two state agencies are partnering on the initiative.
DNREC and the Delaware Department of Agriculture partnered to develop a new website where residents can access information on selecting, planting, and caring for their trees. In addition, residents, non-profit organizations, and municipalities can visit de.gov/tedi to enter information and photos of their tree plantings to help count the trees planted throughout the state.
Urban trees and forests help decrease energy use and emissions by providing shade, cooling temperatures and changing wind speeds. Studies have shown trees can reduce temperatures by nine degrees and energy and heating costs by $7.8 billion a year in the United States.
Delaware has nearly 360,000 forested acres out of about 1.6 million total acres. Seventy-eight percent of the state’s forests are privately owned.
The Agriculture Department’s Urban and Community Forestry Program works to increase tree canopy in communities statewide. The Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program has provided more than $1.86 million in matching tree grants for more than 588 projects in the First State – with more than 16,000 trees planted.