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The Flower Show

PHS Tree Tenders Plant over 1700 Trees Across Philadelphia Region

November 06, 2023

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Interested Volunteers Can Register to Help Plant Trees in Neighborhoods 

November 6, 2023 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – From November 16 - 19 the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and over 90 of its PHS Tree Tenders groups, community organizations, and neighborhood volunteers will come together to plant 1,770 trees throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.  

Through this semi-annual initiative, PHS creates and enhances tree canopy in neighborhoods across the Philadelphia region to promote healthier, greener communities. Interested volunteers can sign up to help plant trees by visiting below. No prior experience necessary. 

PHS Tree Tenders is a core component of PHS’s mission to create healthy living environments and build social connections. It is regarded as one of the most robust urban tree planting programs in the nation and considered to be at the forefront of the urban forestry movement. The PHS Tree Tenders training program offers low-cost education in tree planting and ongoing tree care to individuals and volunteer community groups, with its reach extending to all five of Philadelphia’s surrounding counties, as well as the entire state of Pennsylvania.  

Today, there are more than 180 active Tree Tender groups in the Greater Philadelphia region, and PHS has trained over 6,000 volunteers who have rallied neighbors to come together to plant and care for trees. Since 1991, PHS Tree Tenders have planted over 30,000 trees in neighborhoods across the Greater Philadelphia region.  

Tree Canopy Research 
In November 2023, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), in partnership with PHS, released new results and analysis of a federally funded community science study that mapped Philadelphia’s urban heat islands, highlighting the need for trees in the city's hottest, most heat-vulnerable neighborhoods. The study and analysis — detailed in an interactive ArcGIS StoryMap titled Citywide Heat Ride — involved multiple community groups and city residents who gathered more than 38,000 temperature and humidity measurements across 105 square miles of the city in a single day in July 2022. Temperatures soared as much as 10.5 degrees higher in some areas than others at the same time of day. Findings revealed that areas with more concrete, roads, parking lots, and fewer trees trap heat, making them hotter on average. Tree-dense areas, on the other hand, stayed cooler throughout the day. According to TNC’s analysis, some of the areas of highest need for trees include Kingsessing, Grays Ferry and Hunting Park. Kingsessing has just 14% tree canopy, while Grays Ferry has just 6%. The analysis highlights how tree planting and care would equitably address extreme heat, public health, and quality of life for Philadelphia neighborhoods. 

Studies have also linked increased tree canopy to lower rates of violence and better health outcomes, including reduction in heat-related illness. The US Forest Service estimates that achieving 30% tree canopy would prevent over 400 premature deaths per year in Philadelphia, including over 200 premature deaths in areas of lower socioeconomic status. However, according to a study conducted in 2018 by The City of Philadelphia and University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab

, the city’s tree canopy declined by 6% from 2008-2018, averaging only 20% tree canopy, with some Philadelphia neighborhoods having as little as 2.5% tree canopy.  

Throughout the year, PHS plants and cares for trees and works towards the goal of a healthier urban forest, especially for neighborhoods with low canopy coverage and high average temperatures. 

Interested volunteers do not need experience and are encouraged to find an event in their area and contribute to the tree planting process, which typically lasts about 2 - 3 hours at the assigned site. A PHS Tree Tenders group leader will be assigned to all planting locations to educate and support the assigned volunteers. Everyone is asked to bring gloves, close-toed shoes, a shovel if you have one, and a water bottle. Supplies for plantings will be available onsite, including shovels, pickaxes, brooms, and trash bags. Participants are also asked to dress for the weather as plantings will happen rain or shine. 

To sign up to volunteer for a tree planting event, please visit below.

You can also support PHS’s tree planting programs by donating to the 2023 “More Trees Please” campaign. Each spring and fall, PHS works with volunteers across the Greater Philadelphia region to plant trees at little or no cost to residents. Gifts in support of “More Trees Please” provide critical funding that supplies the trees, tools, and resources needed to make these plantings possible. Learn more at PHSonline.org/patrees 

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization founded in 1827, uses horticulture to advance the health and well-being of the Greater Philadelphia Region. PHS programs create healthier living environments, increase access to fresh food, expand access to jobs and economic opportunity, and strengthen deeper social connections between people. PHS’s work spans 250 neighborhoods; an expansive network of public gardens and landscapes; year-round learning experiences; and the nation’s signature gardening event, the Philadelphia Flower Show. PHS provides everyone with opportunities to garden for the greater good as a participant, member, donor, or volunteer. For information and to support this impactful work, please visit PHSonline.org

Many organizations help advance PHS’s work to create healthy living environments and build deeper social connections in the city and region. Major support for PHS Tree Tenders programs, PHS Tree Tenders plantings, and the PHS effort to restore the area’s tree canopy is made possible by PECO.  

Additional sponsors include Accenture, AQUA Pennsylvania, Arbor Day Foundation, Angels Envy, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Bartlett Tree Experts, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Marshall Reynolds Foundation, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Philadelphia Division of Housing and Community Development, The Philadelphia Phillies, Pennsylvania Gas Works, and the TD Charitable Foundation.