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Tampa is giving out 1,000 free trees to support the city's tree canopy

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks with Florida Matters about challenges facing the city, and the issues she thinks are important for Tampa.
Chandler Balkcom
WUSF Public Media
The giveaway is part of Mayor Jane Castor’s initiative to maintain Tampa’s tree canopy.

Mayor Jane Castor is setting a goal to plant 30,000 new trees by 2030 as part of her tree initiative.

Tampa is giving out 1,000 free trees this weekend to support the city’s urban tree canopy.

The Mayor Jane’s Tree Giveaway will be held in Sulphur Springs Park on Saturday from 8-11 a.m. Tampa residents can take home up to two trees per household, according to a news release from the city, and choose from six native species, including red maple, buttonwood, and southern magnolia.

The giveaway is part of Mayor Jane Castor’s initiative to maintain Tampa’s tree canopy, according to another news release. A new assessment from the city found that 30 percent of Tampa’s total land area is covered in tree canopy, its lowest point in 26 years.

“I am enlisting everyone — city government, individuals, businesses, neighborhood groups for this crucial mission, because Tampa’s tree canopy needs help. We need to act quickly and decisively to replenish our invaluable urban forest, which has decreased over the past decade,” Castor said in the release.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Tampa’s citywide canopy coverage dropped by 2.3 percent since 2016
  • The loss of tree canopy in Tampa since 2011 is over 3,300 acres, roughly the size of 3.7 University of South Florida campuses
  • According to an urban heat map, areas with tree canopy are nearly 6 degrees cooler than areas with more impervious surfaces

Part of the city’s strategy, according to the release, is to plant 30,000 new trees by 2030. That includes a mix of shade, native and specialty trees.
“Our ambitious multi-part roadmap includes the planting of trees on both private property and in public spaces,” Castor said in the release.

In the past, the mayor has pushed to preserve trees in the city and stressed the penalties people may face if they cut them down without approval. In that same vein, the initiative includes aggressively enforcing existing laws and maximizing fines for illegal tree destruction, according to the release.

The city also said it will work on new and existing programs for residents, including a Neighborhood Tree Stewardship program to educate them on tree care and the urban forest.

To register for the Mayor’s Tree Giveaway and to see eligibility requirements, click here. Residents must live within Tampa city limits to be eligible and must be prepared to show proof of residency.

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