Nevada could benefit from a statewide urban forestry strategy that would bolster current efforts across communities, building on the Urban and Community Forestry Program in the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF).
Planting, growing, and maintaining urban trees and community forests can sequester carbon and help cities adapt to higher temperatures and other climate change impacts, as well as urban heat island (UHI) effects. Shading provided by trees can also reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool nearby buildings.
Trees take time and continuous care to grow large and provide optimal benefits to people and communities. However, urban and community forests in Nevada have been in decline for over a decade.
Although Nevada does not have a specific policy to address urban forests or tree protection—NRS 528.098 only has a definition of Urban Forestry and NRS 527.050 provides some protection for vegetation, but mostly state and federal listed species—NDF manages a federally funded Urban and Community Forestry Program that provides technical and financial assistance throughout Nevada.
Many Nevada cities and towns have urban tree programs with staff experts, tree ordinances, and management plans, and 12 cities are currently recognized under the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA Program. The City of Las Vegas is updating its Master Plan, and outlines specific steps for the city to expand its urban forestry program (Box 1).
Statewide tree planting programs or initiatives can also be very effective ways to promote, engage, and involve the public and private industry. In New York City, for example, over 50,000 people were engaged in a citizen science effort to plant 1 million trees across the area.
An integrated statewide strategy could support adoption of these programs across Nevada, with a particular benefit to underserved communities. Such a strategy could include, for example, requirements for increased tree coverage when constructing residences and commercial buildings. This increase in canopy coverage would help reduce UHI effects, if strictly enforced.