The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is home to 101 newly planted trees thanks to Greenscape and the Jacksonville Tree Commission.
The Sycamore, Sabal Palm, Live Oak, Bald Cypress, Red Cedar, and Winged Elm trees will provide shade for the horses and visitors while helping clean the air. The cedar trees have been planted in low-lying areas to help absorb stormwater.
The Tree Commission, established by the City Council, held its first meeting in 2018. It oversees mitigation funds paid to the city by developers to compensate for trees lost to construction. According to the Mayor’s office, the fund currently holds about $22 million.
The Equestrian Center planting is the first by Greenscape in partnership with the commission, it’s also the largest such project to date.
Greenscape Board Chair Kim Bongiovanni said the planting will make a profound difference moving forward. “These 101 trees will eliminate 624,000 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere…and keep 430,000 gallons of water from flowing through the city’s drainage system” over the next 25 years, she said.
City of Jacksonville City Arborist Kathleen McGovern said the Equestrian Center was selected for the project because of its lack of shade trees. It also needed some work to make sure the trees would be sustainable. She says the specific trees were selected because they were shown to be the best suited for the area.
“We looked around at the surrounding woods and saw what was doing well, like the Sycamores and Live Oaks, and we chose from that palette, ” she said.
McGovern said they hope to work with more nonprofit organizations to plant more trees around Jacksonville.
In its 45 years in Jacksonville, Greenspace has planted about 350,000 trees.