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Friday, October 18, 2013 - 1:00pm

Tree Foundation Pushes For Study

A Savannah conservation group says it's been too long since Chatham County has cataloged its trees.

The Savannah Tree Foundation says coastal development is prompting a look at the area's capacity for shade.

Statewide and local studies on Georgia's shade trees are getting dated.

The Savannah Tree Foundation says the last one in Chatham County dates to 2001.

And the Georgia Forestry Commission says the latest statewide study was in 2005.

Karen Jenkins of the Savannah group says a lot has happened since then, including development and road construction throughout the area.

"The tree canopy study will give us the science to know how many trees we have, where they are, the environmental benefits those trees give us and where we can plant more trees," says Jenkins.

The Arbor Day Foundation lists 138 Georgia cities as Tree Cities.

The designation requires a tree inventory on city-owned property.

The Foundation wants a broader study to fill in data across the county.

The last time anyone looked, Georgia was losing 273 acres of tree canopy each day.

But that was before the economic downturn.

The Savannah Tree Foundation wants to fund a tree canopy study in Chatham County.

Savannah Park and Tree Director Jerry Fleming says he welcomes the move.

"In Savannah we have a rather unique urban forest that's tied into every aspect of our lives. And our local tourism is really impacted by the forests," says Fleming. "A lot of the people that come to the city as visitors are coming at least partially for the urban forest."

Foundation officials say trees also benefit real estate and public health.

Development since the last study has boomed, busted and now is starting to come back