November 22, 2022

City-County Council members considers ways to increase urban forests

City-County Council members considers ways to increase urban forests

Members of the Indianapolis City-County Council want to improve the preservation and acquisition of urban forest land and a new special resolution addresses the issue.

The Environmental and Sustainability Committee recently studied ways to increase urban forests in Indianapolis. The resolution will be presented to the City-County Council to identify the best ways to do that including a carbon credit program.

City-County Councilor John Barth leads the committee. He said the goal is to make any source of funding sustainable.

“I was really interested in exploring opportunities to generate revenue that would be ongoing and that could eventually sustain an ongoing program of acquisition,” Barth said.

The Trust for Public Land finds Indianapolis has a lack of public park land. Existing urban forests are often privately owned and may be at risk of development.

Indiana Forest Alliance Executive Director Jeff Stant said there are steps the city can take to prevent loss of urban forests.

“As well as forests that provide protected greenspace in areas that lack such greenspace or otherwise offer the highest ecosystems services of the city, this includes forests that would need to be acquired to complete the city’s full circle greenway plan,” Stant said.

Urban forests can help to filter air and water, control storm water and beautify urban areas. Carbon capture programs sell credits to companies and organizations to offset costs.

The resolution focuses on areas where disinvestment has occurred and are often devoid of urban tree canopy. 

Barth said now is the time to address this issue.

“We need to get ahead of it and try to acquire those urban forests sooner rather than later,” he said.

The committee said it will work with the city to make sure the program is ongoing, and that the money is targeted. The city has put out a request for information about best ways to obtain and maintain urban forests.

The special resolution has little power but could influence future decision making. It will be presented to the full council next month.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at Follow on Twitter: @JillASheridan.

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