Tell me more about the surveying and protection of the trees?

Within public property in Atlanta (parks, right of way, etc.), all trees over 2.5” in trunk diameter are protected.  If a tree is determined to be unhealthy or structurally unsound and the City agrees, the City will issue a DDH (Dying, Diseased, or Hazardous) permit and allow for the removal without the need to plant new trees.

In Atlanta’s tree ordinance, a specimen tree is simply an exceptionally large tree.  These are over 30” trunk diameter for canopy trees (oaks, pines, hickories) and over 10” trunk diameter for understory trees (dogwoods, cherries, etc.).  The City prefers all efforts be made to conserve these trees.

The assessment performed in Memorial Park was technically a Canopy Dynamics Study.  It allows for AMPC and DPR to continue the rich heritage of trees in the park and provides additional information that can guide decisions for tree care.  Because of the study, AMPC and DPR now have hard data on at least a portion of the trees in Memorial Park.  With this, AMPC and DPR can determine the following:

  • Species distribution to help make decisions about which trees are represented and what might be the most appropriate species to plant.
  • 55 different species are represented, but 25% are pines (221).
  • Size (age) distribution that may help shed light on how the population is likely to trend over the next 10-15 years.
  • 63 canopy trees are over 30” diameter (large specimens).
  • Tree health distribution
    − 28.5% Excellent (248)
    − 34.3% Good (298)
    − 25.1% Fair (218)
    − 11.5% Poor (100)
    − .6% Dead (5)

According to AMPC’s arborist, the above is a good distribution.  However, the number of Fair trees is slightly higher than normal.  Some of those Fair trees could be returned to Good or Excellent condition.  Others are growing very closely with another tree and this “shared base” is not a good long term spacing.

The tags are a unique identifier for each tree that corresponds with both the information AMPC collected as well as a specific location captured in the survey.  AMPC and DPR now have the resources to not only see a tree in the field, but could then look up the species and size, if desired.  The tags and nails are aluminum so they will not corrode, and only cause the damage equivalent to a paper cut.

Finally, the City required at least all trees that might be impacted by any trail improvements be surveyed (sized and located at a minimum).  Again, by knowing the “what and where” of the trees, trail improvements have been planned in a way that minimizes the impact to the trees through the use of root bridging which was successfully implemented during the construction of other sidewalks and trails in the City.

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