NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A healthy tree canopy makes for healthier urban neighborhoods, but there are some areas of Davidson County where tree cover is sparse. Root Nashville wants to change that.

Root Nashville’s Campaign Manager Meg Morgan says trees can make a world of difference in the community, “We need a healthy urban tree canopy for healthy waterways. But also for our public health as people, we say all the time that you need trees in order to have a healthy population for the air quality benefits for the lowering of the local temperature and for so many other reasons.”

Root Nashville is a public-private partnership between Metro and The Cumberland River Compact. Their goal is to plant half a million trees in Davidson County by 2050, and they want to make sure they’re going to the areas that need them the most. 

“We’re really focused on creating a more equitable distribution of trees because we were talking about all those different benefits that trees bring, but they’re not equally spread throughout Nashville,” says Morgan.

The neighborhoods with the sparsest tree canopies include North and South Nashville, and there’s a historic reason for this inequity in tree distribution.

“Wealthier neighborhoods do have more trees. And a lot of that goes back to practice from the 30s and 40s by the federal government called redlining, where certain neighborhoods in certain areas were marked as undesirable investments. They were very literally drawn in red. And these were majority-black communities at the time,” says Morgan.

The effects of those policies can still be seen in Nashville’s urban tree canopy, but Root Nashville is working to add trees in these historically underserved areas.

“To make it as easy as possible, to restore our canopy we provide trees totally for free for people’s yards,” says Morgan. “This is through a program called the neighborhood planting Captain program. You become a captain for your neighborhood, you’re awarded a certain number of trees, and then your job is to just tell your neighbors hey, we’ve got free trees for our neighborhood.”

The tree planting season runs from mid-October through March. Root Nashville recommends signing up now so you’re ready to plant by the Fall. More information on signing up can be found on the Root Nashville website.