City leaders invest in trees

Departments - Viewpoint

The City of Dallas adopts urban forest master plan.

July 14, 2021

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, the Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability and the Texas Trees Foundation jointly announced in late June the adoption of the first Dallas Urban Forest Master Plan.

“Dallas must strive to be a top city for families and a global leader in managing and mitigating the effects of climate change,” says Mayor Johnson in a released statement.

“This plan, which recognizes the importance of trees and green space to our vibrant city, can help us achieve both and will ensure that all of our communities can thrive in healthy, sustainable environments for years to come,” he adds.

Dallas trees are a natural resource valued at more than $9 billion in benefits to the ecosystem and replacement cost, according to the State of the Dallas Urban Forest report from the Texas Trees Foundation.

After revisions to the City’s Article X Tree ordinance in 2018, Dallas needed a plan for the strategic management of the tree canopy and urban forest. The Texas Trees Foundation and the city began working to create the first plan of this type with funding provided by the Lyda Hill Philanthropies and Oncor.

The Dallas City Council called for an urban forest master plan as part of the Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), which passed unanimously last year.

“The Urban Forest Master Plan is critical to meeting the goals of the CECAP so we can effectively work towards implementing more green spaces,” says City Councilmember Omar Narvaéz, who chairs the Environment and Sustainability Committee. “We know how important it is to have trees for shade, for cooling, for improved air quality, flood control and public health — this plan sets a good path forward.”

The plan was a collaboration between the Texas Trees Foundation, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Oncor and multiple city departments such as Park and Recreation, Aviation, Dallas Water Utilities, Sustainable Development and Construction, Planning and Urban Design, and the Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability.

“I am truly excited about the adoption of this plan because it brings trees to the forefront as an environmental priority at City Hall and throughout Dallas,” says Janette Monear, president and CEO of Texas Trees Foundation. “A healthy and well-managed tree canopy will make Dallas greener, cleaner, cooler and healthier.”

It is such a delight (and relief) to see a large city like Dallas make urban forests a priority. The master plan (read a copy here: even mentions making trees a priority. Here’s an excerpt: “All too often the urban forest is treated not as an asset, but relegated to a luxury, or worse, as a hindrance to other land uses or infrastructure. To accomplish the goals set out in this plan, trees must be recognized for their full inherent, monetary, health and cultural values."

When your municipality or county government discusses urban forests, make sure you have a voice and you’re offering support. Or initiate the conversation and point to forest master plans like the one Dallas has developed.