Community Forestry

New Orleans is known for its iconic tree lined avenues

…but did you know that the US Forest Service declared New Orleans the most deforested city in the United States after we lost 100,000 trees to Hurricane Katrina? Our urban forest is critical to our ability to live with water, one of New Orleans’ most central challenges.







New Orleans at the 2-mile scale (Google Maps)

Atlanta at a 2-mile scale (Google Maps)








Trees have the ability to drink an enormous amount of water. A mature Live Oak drinks over 1000 gallons of water every day! Tree leaves slow water as it falls from the sky, and tree roots hold soil in place, helping to decrease subsidence. Trees lower our air temperatures and energy bills, clean our soil, water and air, and improve our general well being. We are dependent on our urban forest, and we need to replant it strategically and at a relevant scale – one  neighborhood at a time, not one tree at at time.  We need to build a large-scale canopy substantial enough to systematically protect our city and ourselves. Such notions of scale, and systemic benefits, did not dictate the planning for tree planting in New Orleans until SOUL was launched in June 2016.

Our Community Reforestation program works closely with partner communities to strategically replant our city. SOUL’s vision is to cluster trees in our partner communities until they are substantially reforested, and then expand into other neighborhoods, eventually planting the entire city. This way we can more quickly impact flooding, subsidence, pollution, rising temperatures, and community health. We plant with large groups of volunteers, November through March.

Mapping Reforestation

SOUL maps every tree it plants to ensure its success and measure its impact over time. We’ve planted 6,232 large, native trees (and counting) since we launched in June 2016. Explore our map here: