September 23, 2021

Tree Planting Gives Boost To City's Urban Canopy

Lilly volunteers plant trees at Christian Park in Indianapolis.  - Jill Sheridan WFYI

Lilly volunteers plant trees at Christian Park in Indianapolis.

Jill Sheridan WFYI

Hundreds of trees were planted across Indianapolis this week to increase the city’s urban tree canopy.

Hundreds of Eli Lillly volunteers planted the trees as part of their annual day of service. The help is vital for Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, a nonprofit the city contracts with to increase tree coverage. KIB CEO Jeremy Kranowitz said neighborhood equity is at the forefront.

“It’s important to us to figure out places where, when we plant trees, it really can make a noticeable and important difference,” Kranowitz said.

At a planting on Indianapolis’ eastside, Director of the Office of Sustainability Morgan Mickelson said trees are an important part of the city’s Thrive plan. They purify the air, cool temperatures and more.

“There are significant co-benefits that help a neighborhood, a community, become more resilient to hardships that we can face,” Mickelson said.

Increased urban tree coverage can have positive health and public safety benefits. Mickelson said in her experience it also provides social benefits.

“I’ve often met people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise when I’m planting trees,” Mickelson said. “So it creates a sense of bond and community and a sense of ownership.”

The city uses a social vulnerability index map to determine where to plant trees. More than 220 trees were planted as KIB kicked off its annual tree planting season.

Thrive lists Indy’s tree cover at 33 percent as of 2018.

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