GAINESVILLE — A recently released forestry management plan includes both accolades and advice for local government’s tree ordinances.
The study, more than a year in the making, analyzed the effectiveness of both Gainesville and Hall County’s tree ordinances in an effort to help the community protect its trees.
Rick Foote, Hall County’s resource recovery coordinator, said the Gainesville-Hall County area has lost about 5.2 acres of trees per day for the past 20 years. The two government’s tree ordinances are an effort to preserve tree cover in the area that has been named a Tree City USA.
Both Hall County and Gainesville’s ordinances are comparable with most tree ordinances across the state, the Urban and Community Forestry Management Plan states.
Since the two governments amended their tree ordinances in 2005, parts of their ordinances are more progressive than other cities in Georgia.
"We’re doing things every year; we’re looking at how we can make things even better," said Gainesville’s Senior Planner Jessica Dempsey-Tullar, who worked on the tree study.
Tullar says the local tree ordinances are not as progressive as those in Atlanta or Suwanee.
The study states that Gainesville’s ordinance is more comprehensive than the county’s, but the two governments’ ordinances have many similarities.
Both ordinances lack a preservation program for historic or landmark trees, and neither has a plan for long-term maintenance of trees.
Neither of the two governments has a certified arborist, registered forester or registered landscape architect to review plans to replace and protect trees.
In order to make both tree ordinances more effective, the report suggests that the governments find a way to employ or contract a certified arborist to guide tree planting and protection in the area.
"There is nobody on staff that is formally trained to provide that guidance and that insight into how to properly care, how to properly plant ... that is a weakness that we have identified through this process," Tullar said.
The report also recommends that the two entities require developers to visit their property with a certified arborist before allowing them to clear land for construction.
The forestry management plan was revealed at Friday’s Arbor Day celebration at the North Georgia History Center at Brenau University. The development of the plan included a year-long study of 1,000 trees throughout the Gainesville-Hall County area.