The Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee Initiative aims to improve the health of Tennessee’s trees by engaging people in hands-on tree care and inspiring a new generation of environmental stewards.


Healthy Trees Initiative

Tennessee's trees and forests are essential to urban and rural residents alike.
They capture rainfall and help control urban storm water runoff, provide shade and reduce excessive temperatures, and remove dust and pollutants from the air. A healthy urban tree canopy can remove as much as 42,000 tons of carbon from the air each year.  Trees also provide a number of intangible benefits to people, such as reduced stress and a greater sense of safety.  
The Nature Conservancy’s Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee Initiative educates Tennesseans on the benefits of trees in urban areas and provides crucial information and outreach to forest landowners and tree care professionals to minimize the impact of tree pests and diseases on Tennessee’s urban and natural forests.
Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee  aims to improve the health of Tennessee’s trees by engaging people in tree stewardship, early pest detection, and tree health monitoring, and inspiring a new generation of environmental stewards. Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee:

  • Trains volunteers in tree stewardship and tree health monitoring;
  • Engages the public in tree health monitoring, and long term care of trees; and
  • Raises awareness about the importance of trees and what people can do to keep trees healthy through education and outreach.

Protecting the Health of Our City Trees and Forests
Today many of North America’s trees are being destroyed by non-native insects and diseases. These invaders are removing entire species of trees from our forests and neighborhoods, threatening our air, water, economies, and quality of life.  While communities across the country are investing in tree-planting and green infrastructure, recent studies show that forest insects and diseases have a huge economic and ecological impact. Local governments spend $2 billion and homeowners $2.5 billion annually for tree removal, replacement, treatment, and lost property value. 
Early detection is critical to stopping outbreaks before they become more complicated and expensive to control. Most outbreaks of invasive pests begin in cities, which mean people living in cities have an important opportunity to protect the health of the nation’s trees and forests – both the great expanses of trees and the single trees growing in front of our houses. 
Tennessee’s trees are vulnerable to several top tree killing pests including:  Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Thousand Canker Disease, Sudden Oak Death, and Gypsy Moth.

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Training and Resources

The Conservancy is developing information and tools to improve tree stewardship and monitoring the health of city trees.  Materials include:

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Get Involved

Plant and Nurture Young Trees. The first few years of a tree’s life are critical to the future of a healthy tree. Planting and taking care of newly planted trees can greatly improve their chance of a long and healthy life.
Tree Tending. Tree beds get trampled by people, dogs and trash; a well-maintained tree bed absorbs more water when it rains and maintains a healthy root system for the tree. Street trees are surrounded by roads and sidewalks, and during dry times extra water can make a big difference.
Become a Pest Detective. Be observant and look for unusual changes in your neighborhood trees. Trees usually show symptoms when they are under attack (branches dying, green leaves turning yellow or brown in spring and summer, insects, and holes in the bark). The earlier we catch a pest infestation, the easier it is to limit or even prevent the widespread damage caused by these pests.
Community Inventory of Trees. Join your neighbors in helping to count and catalogue the trees along your neighborhood streets. This information will be important as we look to expand upon and protect Tennessee’s urban forests.
Don’t Move Firewood. Most pests can only move small distances on their own, but people inadvertently move them great distances by moving firewood or other raw wood to new areas. It is very difficult to see if wood is infested with a pest or disease, so play it safe: buy it where you burn it, and please don’t move firewood.
There’s An App for That. There are apps that make it easy for you to identify, map and care for trees, as well as report tree pests to officials. A new phone application to identify tree pests and diseases that could affect Tennessee’s trees is now available for public use. Download the Southeast Early Detection Network app at iTunes or Google Play.
Report a Pest. When you identify tree damage or notice an unusual tree pest, take a picture and note the location. Report your findings to officials in Tennessee by calling (615) 837-5520 or emailing You can also report online at:

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Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Forestry Division Partner. Memphis Daily News. September 4, 2013
TN Asking Homeowners to Raise Early Alert on Destructive Tree Pests. Josh Brown with The Tennessean. September 3, 2013
Killer of Ash Trees Raises State Awareness. The Paris Post-Intelligencer. September 3, 2013
Fight That Pest! Nature Conservancy Launches Healthy Tree Program in Tennessee. August 28, 2013
Boring Beetle May Batter Ash Population in Chattanooga Area. Louie Brogdon with the Chattanooga Times Free Press. May 23, 2013
A Destructive Beetle Threatens Trees — and People Who Live Near Them. Patterson Clark with the Washington Post. May 13, 2013

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USDA APHIS State Plant Health:
Tennessee Department of Agriculture:
City of Chattanooga:
University of Tennessee Extension:
USFS Forest Health Protection:
Tennessee Division of Forestry:
Southern Chapter ISA:
University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health:

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