This month the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) established a task force to protect the trees of Southwest and to expand the neighborhood’s tree canopy.

Trees bring urban neighborhoods many benefits—shade and energy savings, improved air quality, and reduced storm water runoff. Trees also improve quality of life by beautifying urban streetscapes, offering relief from visual stress and creating recreational opportunities.

In 1950, DC’s tree canopy was 50 percent, meaning that when viewed aerially, half of DC was covered by treetops. But because of neglect over decades, thousands of trees were lost and the tree canopy declined steeply. Today, citywide the canopy is about 35 percent, according to data from Casey Trees, a nonprofit devoted to restoring DC’s tree canopy. And the situation in Southwest is even worse—with only 25 percent tree canopy, according to Casey Trees.

In 2012, as part of the city’s long-term environmental plan, Sustainable D.C., the District adopted a tree canopy goal of 40 percent by 2035.

To help the District meet that goal and to provide environmental and aesthetic benefits to Southwest, the Tree Task Force will work to protect the trees we already have by watering during hot summer months and providing other tree maintenance. And we’ll work with community, government, and business groups to plant more trees in Southwest—expanding the tree canopy and improving the quality of life for everyone in Southwest.

To join or follow updates from the new SWNA Tree Task Force, please reach out to the task force chair, Mark Rodeffer, at rodeffer@gmail.com or 202-487-5438.

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