Citizens must live in a healthy environment, so town government will protect watersheds, trees, air quality, and other elements of the town’s ecology.
Supporting a healthy tree canopy is essential to Davidson’s Core Value: Citizens must live in a healthy environment, so town government will protect watersheds, trees, air quality, and other elements of the town’s ecology.
Davidson College (established in 1837) and early town residents were largely responsible for planting Davidson's historic tree canopy. The college's trees became its now highly regarded campus arboretum.
Davidson’s Livability Board, in collaboration with local non-profits (see Resources Tab) and Davidson town staff, created a multi-year plan to address the needs of Davidson's community forest. This plan includes three components, all of which are in process:
- strengthening the local tree ordinance
- updating the street tree inventory
- increasing volunteer tree planting and community engagement
In October 2018, Bartlett Tree Experts completed an inventory of 1,650 Davidson street trees (those in the public right-of-way or within X distance of the right-of-way) and assessed the vegetation structure, function, and value of this urban forest. The results of the inventory will improve both street tree maintenance and street tree management which are critical to the town's tree canopy. Included in the services provided by Bartlett is a new inventory management tool called ArborScope which utilizes the latest technologies to help the Town of Davidson better manage its tree canopy: ArborScope
The Town of Davidson received a grant in the amount of $9,328 from the North Carolina Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program. Matching funds of $8,243, for a total cost of $17,571, facilitated the tree inventory and canopy management plan.
Summary data from the i-Tree Eco model developed by the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station:
Number of trees: 1650
Tree cover: 36.27
Most common species of trees: willow oak, red maple, and shortleaf pine
Pollution removal: 1795 pounds/year ($3.59 thousand/year)
Carbon storage: 1.908 thousand tons ($247 thousand)
Carbon sequestration: 29.93 tons ($3.88 thousand/year)
Oxygen production: 79.82 tons/year
Avoided runoff: 69.84 thousand cubic feet/year ($4.67 thousand/year)
Structural values: $6.2 million
To read the complete i-Tree Ecosystem Analysis, please click HERE.
Tree Canopy Study
Davidson’s tree canopy is one of its most distinct features. The town has many different types of canopy: leafy trees overhanging historic streets, newer streets with young and growing trees, active and passive parks or nature preserves with ornamental plantings, mature trees and significant forest stands, and a college campus filled with numerous specimen trees. To better understand the town's current canopy coverage, the Davidson Board of Commissioners directed staff to perform a third-party analysis of existing conditions. The town hired PlanIt Geo from Colorado to map the extent of the tree canopy. The project scope also included a review of the town's historic tree canopy dating from 2009 to provide a reference point for understanding the change that's taken place over the last decade. The results were presented to the Board of Commissioners at their May 14, 2019 work session. The results ca be reviewed in the agenda packet for that meetings, located HERE.
Tree & Landscaping Rules
The Town of Davidson regulates the preservation, planting, and maintenance of trees through the Davidson Planning Ordinance. Section 9, Tree Preservation, Landscaping, & Screening, contains the standards which individual buildings or development projects must meet when they are constructed in Davidson. The standards cover: Who is responsible for administering the ordinance, documentation requirements for landscape plans, what must be preserved, how new trees must be planted, and a many other criteria such as construction practices, pruning techniques, and parking lot landscaping. Specific rules regarding tree trimming and removal can be found HERE
In 2018, at the direction of Davidson’s Board of Commissioners, members of the Planning Board and Livability Board began working with staff to update the standards. The proposed text amendments will improve Davidson’s ability to create and preserve a vibrant tree canopy, clarify approval processes and violation penalties, and consider the integration of an arborist in project/permit review and decision-making. The text amendments are anticipated to be finalized in the late spring or early summer of 2019.