Advocacy + Policy

In the summer of 2022, SOUL launched a planning process to inform a Reforestation Master Plan. Four meetings were held for professionals who interact with trees and New Orleans’ tree canopy. Attendees included professional landscape architects and arborists, municipal departments, and nonprofits.

During the fall of 2022, outreach continued to the various planning districts within New Orleans to get the input of residents about their concerns about and vision for growing a tree canopy.

Next, sub-groups met monthly to give direction to the comments from both sets of meetings. The groups all determined that specific mapping data was needed, and SOUL contracted a company to create granular GIS data about how many trees we can plant in the available spaces in the city.

Knowing that the final step in creating the plan was to write it, SOUL accepted proposals for creating the final master planning document. Spackman, Mossop, Michaels was awarded the project and has begun writing the plan.

Stay tuned for next steps…..

SOUL’s Master Plan recommendations were accepted by the City Council. Click here to view the entire Master Plan online. 

Our next step will be to propose changes to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) around protecting valuable trees on private property and introducing heritage tree legislation.

SOUL’s recommendations:

Text 07-05 Applicant’s Request

Sustaining Our Urban Landscape seek to increase the tree canopy of the City of New Orleans. They proposed the following two (a and b) requests to accomplish this.

Request a).

Vol 2, Ch 7, Green Infrastructure,

Narrative Recommendations

By green infrastructure, we refer not only to public parks and open space, but to a system and scale of landscape features that retain and infiltrate stormwater. Because these features mitigate flood risk, slow/halt subsidence, and save energy, amongst many other benefits, they should be incorporated into public and private development. The Master Plan should include measurable green infrastructure goals, including goals for the retrofitting of existing development. As trees play a vital role in green infrastructure and are the most affordable form of green infrastructure to implement, the language around protecting valuable trees and creating funding mechanisms to plant new trees should be enhanced. The term “heritage trees” should be introduced throughout the document to indicate valuable (usually native water loving trees) trees with a caliper of 24” or more.

In addition, the city can implement public green infrastructure projects more successfully if departmental functions are explained and responsibilities delineated.

Request b).

page 7.6

Goal 2: Restoration and expansion of the city’s urban forest to reach 50 percent tree canopy by

Strategy: 2.A. Promote tree planting on both public and private property.

Change 2A to: Promote tree preservation and tree planting on both public and private properties.

Add: 2A.10: Create a no net loss of tree canopy strategy for public and private property.

Add: 2A.11: Establish criteria for “Heritage Trees” to inform future development.