Gainesville earns Tree City USA® designation for 42nd consecutive year

Published on June 28, 2023


The Arbor Day Foundation has named Gainesville a 2022 Tree City USA®, an honor the City of Gainesville has earned for 42 consecutive years in recognition of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

“Earning this designation for more than four decades is simply outstanding,” said Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward. “We love our trees, the shade they provide and the pollution they remove from the air we breathe. This recognition shows how committed we are to maintaining all of that for future generations.”

Every year, the city’s Urban Forestry team plants 1,000 trees, on average, throughout municipal parks, greenspaces and rights-of-way. They also give away hundreds of saplings to area residents each Arbor Day, along with planting and pruning tips. These are among the many reasons why Gainesville has the highest tree canopy percentage of any other Florida city, equal in size or larger, at 59 percent.

Tree initiatives

In 2021, the city debuted its Edible Groves project, planting more than 44 varieties of fruit and nut trees at two municipal parks and on a strip of publicly owned land in Gainesville. Chestnut, loquat, peach, pear, pecan and tangerine trees are among the many types that may be found at Smokey Bear Park, at Fred Cone Park and on Bountiful Boulevard (located along the 4200-4300 block of SW 40th Boulevard). The fruits and nuts in the public groves are free for neighbors to enjoy. In 2022, the city earned a Municipal Achievement Award from the Florida League of Cities for the Edible Groves project.

Since then, efforts have begun to establish a Level 2 arboretum at Evergreen Cemetery. When completed, the specialized botanical garden at the municipal cemetery will host more than 100 different species of trees.

“We’ll also develop a tree walk and install signage with QR codes for visitors to learn more about the trees,” said City Arborist David Conser.

The arboretum is expected to be completed later this year.

“The trees being planted and cared for by the City of Gainesville are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Additionally, participation in this program brings residents together and creates a sense of civic pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education,” he said.

Tree City USA® criteria

The city earned the Tree City USA® recognition by meeting four requirements: maintaining a tree advisory board or department; having a tree-care ordinance; dedicating an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita per person; and by hosting an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

The Tree City USA® program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the United States Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.