Melbourne knows how to throw some serious shade, and that’s a good thing.
In recognition of its ongoing efforts to green up the community and maintain a healthy urban tree canopy, Melbourne recently was named a “Tree City USA” for 2018 by the Arbor Day Foundation, the nonprofit conservation and education organization dedicated to planting trees. The honor should come as no surprise – this marks the 30th consecutive year Melbourne has made the foundation’s list.
Established in 1976, Tree City USA is a community improvement initiative that the foundation manages in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service. The nationwide program provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their inventory of public trees.
To achieve Tree City USA status, cities must meet four core standards of sound urban forestry management: 1) maintain a tree board or department, 2) have a community tree ordinance, 3) spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and 4) celebrate Arbor Day.
The benefits of trees to community residents and visitors are almost too numerous to list: Among other things, trees help increase property values, beautify public spaces, reduce energy consumption, invigorate neighborhoods, and reduce crime. They contribute to our overall health, supplying much-needed cooling (especially here in our Florida environment) while helping to clean both our air and our drinking water. And as they provide valuable habitat for various wildlife, they also help reduce the effects of climate change.
“Trees enhance the overall attractiveness of the community, making it more aesthetically pleasing to those who live and work here, and more welcoming to tourists,” noted Bonnie King, the executive director of Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism. “The tree canopy in Melbourne, including so many stately live oaks, is an integral part of the community’s charm. All those beautiful trees make places like Downtown Melbourne a destination that invites you to get out and walk around, and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. They provide visitors another excuse to stay longer and spend their tourism dollars in our area.
“Programs like Tree City USA also help build stronger ties among citizens and businesses within our neighborhoods,” King added. “They contribute to a stronger sense of community pride.”
More information about the Tree City USA program is available at arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.