RALEIGH – As North Carolina’s urban tree canopy declines, the need to continue to plant trees becomes even more important as the state joined in the recognition of Arbor Day on March 19.

Established in 1872 as a tree-planting holiday, more than a million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. Today, all 50 states — including North Carolina — and numerous countries around the globe recognize Arbor Day and its celebration of the planting, upkeep and preservation of trees.

Each year, North Carolina is losing around 4,510 acres of urban canopy cover. Urban tree canopy cover in North Carolina is an estimated 54 percent of total land mass. The national average is about 39 percent. While North Carolina ranks in the top 10 states in the country for urban canopy cover, the estimated percentage of urban land in North Carolina grew from 9.5 percent in 2010 to 11.5 percent in 2020.

“Trees and forests are an important part of the solution to many challenges we face in North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We are fortunate to have state forestry programs that promote and protect forest resources by supporting communities and landowners with site preparation, tree-planting and forest improvement. Ensuring the sustainable management of North Carolina’s forests is critical for our economy and future generations. Planting trees is one way we can all do our part on Arbor Day and every day.”

Planting trees and responsible urban forest management in North Carolina are critical for keeping the state on the path to sustainable forest resources and realizing the benefits trees and forests provide.

“The North Carolina Forestry Association believes that environmental protection and ecological restoration of the state’s forests can go hand in hand with economic opportunity and improved rural employment,” said Dr. John Hatcher, executive director of NCFA. “Forestry is a strong environmental and economic driver in our state, creating more than 150,400 jobs and is 100 percent environmentally sustainable and renewable.”

Watauga County Forest Ranger Andrew Harsey said the Watauga County office is available in assisting landowners and homeowners with tasks such as urban tree management plans and assistance; insect and disease identification and control methods; tree species planting recommendations; and tree maintenance recommendations such as proper pruning and mulching techniques. Contact Harsey at Andrew.harsey@ncagr.gov.

Learn more about urban and community forestry programs and services available through the N.C. Forest Service at www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/Urban_Forestry.htm. Learn more about the NCFA, which actively promotes healthy, productive forests by supporting the efforts of landowners and forestry-related businesses and organizations who responsibly manage or use forests, at www.ncforestry.org.

Additional helpful resources include the N.C. Urban Forest Council at www.ncufc.org, NCSU Extension Forestry at forestry.ces.ncsu.edu and North Carolina Project Learning Tree at forestry.ces.ncsu.edu/ncplt/. To learn more about Arbor Day in North Carolina, follow these forestry partners on social media.

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