Jobless and underemployed Savannah residents nurture tree saplings in vacant lots
The trees will help replace those lost to storms and development.
(Photo credit: Jeff Gunn / Flickr)
Savannah, Georgia, is famous for its trees. Graceful live oaks draped with Spanish moss shade many of its historic streets.
The city’s trees are not only beautiful. They provide shade, cool local neighborhoods, and help absorb stormwater. But many are disappearing.
“We’re losing trees to development and to major storm events,” says Savannah’s sustainability director, Nick Deffley. He says that to help restore Savannah’s tree canopy, the city is planting new trees.
It recruited un- and under-employed residents to help transform three vacant lots into nurseries where young trees can mature until they’re ready to plant where needed.
“So we now have these urban tree nurseries in low-lying, under-served communities,” Deffley says. “And they are being built up and beautified and designed and grown by folks from that community.”
He says these local, paid apprentices received training, job placement, and an opportunity to become certified landscaping professionals.
“We’re focused on giving people skills to learn how to increase their economic mobility and get better jobs and take pride in the community that they live in,” he says.
All this, while helping create a skilled workforce that can maintain Savannah’s beautiful trees for many years to come.