Pittsburgh, PA (August 24, 2013) – Students from Keystone Oaks High School were among nearly 50 residents who helped plant 19 trees provided by TreeVialize Pittsburgh, a five-year-old partnership led by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. More than 19,000 trees have been planted since the program started in 2008—getting close to the 20,000-tree goal. What makes the program unique is that to participate and receive free trees, communities must send residents to a Tree Tenders classes offered by Tree Pittsburgh and commit to water, prune, and, maintain the trees.
Over six weeks this spring, TreeVitalize and resident volunteers planted 1,887 trees in 13 Pittsburgh neighborhoods. TreeVitalize is a joint project of the county, the city, Tree Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
At classes held periodically throughout the county, residents learn which trees perform best in the area, how to prune and maintain them, and how to recognize diseases and other problems. They receive a recommended list of street tree cultivars that are also well-suited to front yards in Western Pennsylvania and how to identify the right tree for the right place.
When local urban foresters select trees, they also consider threats from pest or disease. For example, TreeVitalize has never planted ash trees because of the effect the emerald ash borer has had on the large population of older ash trees in city and county parks.
TreeVitalize trees have an overall survival rate of 96 percent. It is highest in neighborhoods in which the people who planted the trees continue to care for them. Engaging residents in the process and turning them into Tree Tenders is a key to the project’s success.