Fairfax County Begins 30-Year Tree Planting Campaign


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director of Public Affairs
703-324-3187, TTY 711, Fax 703-324-2010
Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)
publicaffairs@fairfaxcounty.gov

Oct. 15, 2007

Fairfax County Begins 30-Year Tree Planting Campaign

Plan Supports the 30-Year Tree Canopy Goal and Cool Counties Initiative

Fairfax County’s new tree canopy goal took root today with a campaign to plant trees on county properties during the next three decades. Up to 400 trees per year will be planted at county facilities for the next 30 years to reduce pollution and energy costs.

This effort is one step in implementing the 30-Year Tree Canopy Goal that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted in July. The county aims to blanket 45 percent of the county with tree cover by 2037. The goal is one of the most ambitious for any local government in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

“Planting trees is just one action we must take as part of our response to global warming,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly. “Trees help curb greenhouse gases, reduce pollution and cut energy costs. The county is taking the initiative to increase plantings on its own properties, and we urge all local property owners to follow our example to help us achieve this new goal.”

Trees make a significant impact on the environment. They remove carbon dioxide from the air, which is the primary greenhouse gas, and they absorb ozone and other pollutants. Shade from trees can reduce a home or building’s cooling costs by 10-50 percent in the summer. Every 1 percent increase in tree canopy also reduces mid-day air temperatures by up to 2.88 degrees. Mitigating the heat island effect reduces ground-level ozone during the summertime, helping reduce the risk of Code Red air quality days.

Once achieved, the canopy goal is expected to save taxpayers money. The trees when matured should provide $5.3 million of air pollution removal and $4.7 million of energy conservation every year. The additional canopy also will have the capacity to absorb more than 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually, which could eliminate the need for $1 million in greenhouse gas reduction services each year.

To reach its goal, the county and the public will need to plant an additional 2.6 million trees — or 20,400 acres of new canopy — as well as maintain existing trees. New trees will be needed because the county expects to lose 4 percent of its canopy during the next 30 years. This projected canopy loss is equivalent to seven parks the size of Huntley Meadows, one of the county’s largest.

The goal also supports the county’s Cool Counties initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it also pushes forward the county’s Tree Action Plan. Since 2003, the board has implemented more than $6 million worth of projects and programs to address air quality and global climate change.

For more information about the 30-Year Tree Canopy Goal, call 703-324-1770, TTY 711, or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/environmental/trees.htm.

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