Urban Reforestation

Trees can act as a natural solution to many of the issues New Orleans faces, from retaining stormwater to reducing urban heat and the “heat island effect”.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina devastated the urban canopy, with some estimates of the number of lost trees upwards of 200,000. A recent study showed that the City’s tree canopy currently covers just 18.5% of the community, down from nearly 30% prior to Katrina in 2005. This coverage is much lower than comparable southern cities, including Memphis (37%), Austin (38%), and Atlanta (47%).

The City’s Climate Action Plan calls for 40,000 new trees to be planted by the 2030, and in an equitable manner, with at least 10% canopy coverage for every neighborhood. The City’s tree planting plans have been bolstered by the New Orleans Reforestation Plan, released in 2023 by SOUL (Sustaining Our Urban Landscape).

The Department of Parks and Parkways maintains all City trees. These include trees on public property such as neutral grounds and in parks, and trees between the sidewalk and street. In 2023, the City and partners received an $8M grant from the Urban and Community Forestry Program run by the U.S. Forest Service.

The grant will fund tree plantings in designated underserved areas throughout the city while also funding programs that train the next generation of urban forestry specialists.