One organization is dedicated to restoring the New Orleans tree canopy in a fun, spirited way that fits the city’s vibe. Originally founded by Monique Pilie as Hike For Katreena, the NOLA Tree Project was created to help replant the estimated 100,000 trees lost during Hurricane Katrina. With an increased focus on the sustainability, resilience and future of the city’s trees, the NOLA Tree Project just hit 50,000 trees last year under director Connie Uddo’s leadership.
Why is it so important to restore the tree canopy in and around New Orleans? For starters, there’s the potential energy savings factor. A good shade tree can help keep a house cooler by up to 5 degrees in the summer, according to Uddo. Trees are also crucial for stormwater management. In addition to slowing down rainfall, trees such as the cypress can drink up hundreds of gallons of stormwater quickly. Lastly, trees are an iconic and beautiful part of the city. “What would NOLA look like without our majestic oaks?” says Uddo.
The NOLA Tree Project helps bring more trees to New Orleans through three programs. First, the Urban Forestry Program invites volunteers to plant trees in parks, public green spaces, neutral grounds, schools and community centers. Next, the Big Treesy Giveaway donates an average of 3,000 trees per year to Orleans Parish residents, completely free. (Check out NolaTreeProject.org/what-we-do/big-treesy to see when the next giveaway event will be held.) Any resident can drop by, take a workshop and get educated about caring for their new tree. Finally, the Greaux Healthy Kids & Community Orchards program goes the extra mile toward helping New Orleans area children learn more about trees and healthy eating. Taking off from the edible schoolyard idea, volunteers with this program plant an entire orchard of fruit trees at a school or community center. The program has already placed 10 orchards.
Overall, the NOLA Tree Project is all about building a better city. “Resilience; that word is used so much in New Orleans. But trees also build resilience, because they become part of the fight to help build stronger, healthier communities,” says Uddo.
“We really need corporate, local companies to come do a day of service with us, help us fund the planting to purchase the trees, maybe become a long-term partner,” says Uddo. In fact, large groups of volunteers from companies, corporations, businesses or schools are especially welcome. You can help Uddo and her team meet (end exceed) the goal of planting 100,000 trees in New Orleans.
Learn more by visiting NolaTreeProject.org.