AIKEN ­– Thanks to a generous contribution from the Aiken Land Conservancy, the City of Aiken is preparing to conduct a sweeping tree inventory intended to help craft a management plan for the City’s well known and well-loved urban forest.

The survey will mainly target the estimated 16,000 trees which grace public lands within the City, including those in the 176 parkways Downtown. The tree canopy gives Aiken a unique atmosphere that must be nurtured and protected for future generations. Winner of the “Tree City USA” Award every year since 1985, Aiken has long treasured its trees.

“The Aiken Land Conservancy is thrilled to be a partner with the City in this exciting effort, which has been made possible by the generous donation of one of our Trustees and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Johnston,” said Joanna Dunn Samson, the President of Aiken Land Conservancy.

The Land Conservancy has delivered funds in the amount of $107,200 to fund the first phase of the project. That amount has been underwritten by a generous donation from one of the foundation’s trustees and his wife.

Bartlett Tree Experts of Augusta, GA. has been selected to conduct the survey. Bartlett Tree Experts was founded by Francis A. Bartlett in 1907 and is among the world’s leading scientific tree and shrub-care company, famously providing services to the Augusta National for many years.

By having an updated Tree Inventory and Management Plan, the City will be able to improve its efforts in providing a healthy and well maintained urban forest for its citizens. Aiken’s trees provide many benefits in the form of shade for cooling and reduced energy consumption, reduction of air pollutants, storm water runoff reduction, and water quality improvements. Our trees take care of us and we must take care of them.

The trees also increase property values and aesthetics and are linked to mental and physical health of local residents. However, there are costs associated with their long-term maintenance and management, which present a liability as the trees age and die in densely-populated areas.

The purpose of the project has three aims:

First, is to obtain an inventory and assessment of the condition of the municipal trees in Aiken, and to help City staff plan for both short and long-term resource allocation and risk management strategies.

Second, it will provide the City a Tree Canopy Assessment which will establish a baseline measure of the City’s tree canopy coverage and available planting space, and to inform future policy decisions. These may include, but are not limited to, street tree planting and canopy coverage goals, and long-term sustainability issues impacting storm water, transportation and energy distribution networks.

Third, the City will obtain an overall management plan to help guide future funding, maintenance, and preservation of Aiken’s magnificent urban forest.