The City of Aiken has issued a Request for Proposals seeking a firm to conduct and tree inventory and help create a management plan for the City’s well known urban forest. The work will be funded by a generous private contribution from one of Aiken’s most ardent lovers of the City’s incredibly varied City-wide arboretum – Rob Johnston.

The survey would target the estimated 8,000 trees which grace Aiken’s public spaces across the City, including the 176 parkways in the Downtown area. The parkways give Aiken a unique atmosphere that must be nurtured and protected for future generations. It is estimated that there are about fifteen miles of parkways, which have become famous for their great natural beauty – there are no formal patterns and no geometric flower beds. Winner of the “Tree City USA” Award every year since 1985, Aiken has long treasured its trees.

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 RFP 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, social justice initiatives, 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.

Reponses to the RFPs are due March 28th 2017.