What’s a tree city? New Jersey apparently has a lot of them
Who would've thought that New Jersey, out of all places, would be represented on a list involving trees? With such a dense population and tons of development, it's hard to believe we could even make a list like this in the first place.
But alas, the Garden State does represent on this list of Tree Cities, and it does it more than a few times. New Jersey is part of a handful of states who have cities recognized on this list.
That does, however, beg the question. What exactly is a Tree City in the first place? And how does a city get recognized on such a list?
Well, a Tree City is pretty much what it sounds like. It's a city that strongly encourages the growth of trees within a municipality, and promotes the well-being and importance of having trees within an urban community.
The program was started by the Arbor Day Foundation in 1976. At the time, only 42 cities qualified to make the designation of a Tree City. Over the years, this number has grown to over 3600, with new cities joining the list in recent years.
In order to be considered a Tree City, there are certain criteria that a municipality must first meet.
1) The town must have a department devoted to trees
Along with a dedicated department, this can also include board members that are in charge of aiding with the planting of trees throughout the town.
This can be anything from trees being planted along neighborhood roads to having trees provided for residents who wish to have them on their properties.
2) The town must have a tree ordinance
Something on the books with requirements when it comes to trees within a municipality.
The city has specific laws to help manage and promote the planting and growing of trees.
3) A minimum amount must be budgeted
This is a per capita amount that must be spent on trees within an urban setting.
The municipality must spend a minimum of $2 per capita to qualify as a Tree City.
4) The city must celebrate Arbor Day
A very important celebration a city must observe. If all four criteria are met, then that municipality would be designated as a Tree City.
Not only do cities throughout the country have this designation, but cities around the world also take having the designation of a Tree City very seriously. And all of this is very beneficial for our planet.
What about New Jersey?
Being New Jersey's a densely populated state with many urban regions, it's very important for us to focus on keeping trees planted, alive, and well maintained. And that is no easy task for a state such as ours.
But fortunately for us, the Garden State is home to many municipalities that fit these criteria to be classified as a Tree City. New Jersey does a great job making sure our cities are as green as they possibly can be.
We're also home to some of the newest cities joining the list, as well as cities that have been recognized since the early days. Here's a look at all of New Jersey's oldest cities that have been designated for 40 years or more.
New Jersey's oldest Tree Cities (40 years or more)
- Atlantic Highlands - 40 years
- Freehold Township - 40 years
- Medford - 42 years
- Millburn - 42 years
- East Brunswick - 43 years
- Merchantville - 43 years
- Kearney - 44 years
- Morris Plains - 44 years
- Paramus - 45 years
- Parsippany-Troy Hills Township - 45 years
New Jersey's newest Tree Cities (within the last 3 years)
- Belleville - 1 year
- Hammonton - 1 year
- Long Hill - 1 year
- Township of Washington - 1 year
- Westfield - 1 year
- Florham Park - 2
- Maple Shade - 2
- Point Pleasant Beach - 2
- Aberdeen - 3
- Highlands - 3
- Matawan - 3
- Old Bridge - 3
And that's only a small sampling as New Jersey has many more cities that are also recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation.
Curious if your municipality is a tree city? Click here to check out the full list courtesy of arborday.org. Simply select New Jersey on the map to see the complete list of all of New Jersey's Tree Cities.