Nashville’s tree canopy shrinking as development boom continues

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As the development boom in Nashville continues, some worry not enough trees are going up with the new houses.

There are very specific rules for builders of new houses and businesses. For every 30 feet of road frontage on a new home lot, a tree must be planted if none are present.

But in neighborhoods like The Nations in West Nashville, many new homes do not have trees.

(Photo: WKRN)

Karen Brown has lived in The Nations for 2 ½ years. She got involved with the Nashville Tree Task Force after noticing a trend on her street.

“I had homes being built across the street without trees,” said Brown. “And I was like, ‘There’s something wrong here.’”

Brown points to the aesthetic and environmental benefits of a healthy urban canopy of trees.

It’s up to the city’s Urban Forestry division to enforce those codes, but the department appears to be severely understaffed.

(Courtesy: Nashville.gov)

Austin has 22 urban foresters. Indianapolis has 20. Nashville has just one.

Metro Councilwoman Mary Carolyn Roberts says the department needs more staff.

“So that means one person is having to check to see if trees are being planted,” Roberts told News 2.

“Comparatively speaking, Nashville is way behind the 8-ball,” she said. “We’re growing this quickly. What’s going to happen is, at the end of this, we’re going to look back and have a lot of new construction and no canopy of trees.”

Roberts is asking Mayor Megan Barry and the council to fund at least six more urban forester positions, to protect the urban canopy.