Community Canopy Program Offers Free Trees as Climate Impact Strategy

Two people holding pots of trees at a community canopy free tree event, with other trees and forest in the background.

During September 2022, the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program partnered with four municipalities to deliver the Community Canopy Program, where 525 trees were given to 260 residents of Barre, Burlington Lyndon, and Windsor.

Community Canopy is a unique program of the Arbor Day Foundation that provides free trees and guidance on where to plant trees to best conserve energy and cool homes. It uses a research-based, easy-to-use online mapping tool that takes the guesswork out of tree planting to maximize the cooling benefits of trees.

Five species were available for participants to choose from:

  • Red maple
  • Red oak
  • Northern hackberry
  • River birch
  • Redbud

Participants signed-up online and picked up their trees at the designated locations. At each pick up event, Urban & Community Forestry Program staff and volunteers shared tips on planting, care, and maintenance. One participant shared, “Thank you for my first ever trees to plant- love them already! I am a first time homeowner and this was such a gift I could not have afforded otherwise.”

When planted properly, a single mature tree can save a homeowner up to 20 percent on energy costs. For homes without air conditioning, shade trees can make the home feel cooler during summer heat. These newly planted trees will increase canopy cover and provide benefits to homeowners, community members, and wildlife.

The Community Canopy Program is an outlined strategy in the Vermont Climate Action Plan to increase tree coverage. Since 2017, VT UCF has given away 2,835 trees to over 1,600 Vermont residents. The projected 20 year cumulative values include a combined $624,024 in energy and community benefits.

The Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program is a collaborative effort of the UVM Extension and the Department of Forests, Parks, & Recreation.

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