WORCESTER – The City’s focus on environmental improvement and urban forest management was recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation which named Worcester a Tree City USA for the 35th consecutive year.
In addition to the Tree City USA title, the City of Worcester also received a Tree City USA Growth Award for the 22nd year in a row.
“We are extremely proud to once again receive this honor,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. said. “Being named a Tree City USA 35 years in a row is a special distinction, and the City remains committed to maintaining and preserving our urban forest and green infrastructure now and in the future.”
Worcester became eligible for the Tree City USA awards by meeting the program’s four pillars which include: establishing a tree board or department, having a tree-care ordinance, creating an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and facilitating an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
This year Worcester’s Arbor Day celebration took a different tone as the tree planting ceremony recognized the impact of the pandemic. During the celebration, three trees were planted in Elm Park to honor residents who lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus, to thank healthcare workers for their lifesaving efforts, and as a dedication to all City employees and essential workers.
Through the Worcester Tree Initiative, now a program of Tower Hill Botanical Garden, 30,000 new trees were planted in the area between 2009 and 2014 to combat the loss caused by the Asian Long-horned Beetle infestation. An additional 1,200 trees have been planted in the past five years with 200 more trees expected to be planted in the City this year alone.
The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State foresters.
“If ever there was a time for trees, now is that time. Communities worldwide are facing issues with air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being, and energy use,” Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe said. “Worcester is stepping up to do its part … The trees being planted and cared for by Worcester are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life.”
More information about the Tree city USA program is available at arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.