Expanding the number of trees in San Diego County


The County of San Diego’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is working to increase the number of trees at County parks and open space preserves. By 2050, the County aims to plant 110,000 trees throughout the unincorporated county! Prompting this effort is the fact that trees are significant sources of carbon storage and sequestration due to their size and longevity. Expanding the number of trees planted in the County will help increase the amount of carbon sequestered and aid in offsetting carbon dioxide emissions generated by other sources.

3,500 trees planted per year

As part of its Climate Action Plan (CAP) Measure A-2.2, the County of San Diego is implementing a tree planting program for the unincorporated county to plant a minimum of 3,500 trees annually starting in 2017. To track progress, the CAP establishes targets for the total number of trees to be planted. These targets are set at 14,000 trees planted by 2020, 49,000 trees planted by 2030, and an additional 70,000 trees between 2031-2050!

Thanks to County staff, volunteer, and community tree planting efforts (keep reading for how you can get involved!), DPR is well on its way to achieving the 2020 target tree planting goal. By the end of 2018, the County has planted a total of 13,930 trees at County parks and open space preserves, reaching 99.5% of the 2020 target two years early! In 2018 alone, the County planted 8,269 trees.

Later in 2020, the County will release the 2019 CAP Annual Monitoring Report with updated progress towards meeting the 2020 target. You can continue to track the County’s progress here.

Also included in CAP Measure A-2.2, the County will conduct a Tree Canopy Assessment by 2025. The assessment will help identify which parks have suffered the largest loss to their tree canopy (i.e., the above ground portion of a tree composed of branches and leaves) due to prolonged drought and spread of invasive species. Parks that have experienced reductions can further benefit from tree plantings.

Why is the County increasing the number of trees?

Trees use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide from the air into nutrients that they use for food and growth. Trees are unique in their ability to store large amounts of carbon in their wood, known as carbon sequestration. As tress grow, they continue to add more carbon. Trees also provide natural habitats for animals, clean air, beauty, shade, and can contribute to well-being. Learn more about the multiple benefits of trees.

Want to get involved?

If you’d like to help in growing this valuable natural resource, you or your school can become a volunteer tree planter with the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation. A list of current volunteer opportunities is available and is updated as new opportunities are organized.

You can also search for future tree planting events (and lots of other great County-sponsored events!) on the County News Center Events Calendar. While you are there, sign up for their newsletter to receive the latest County updates straight to your inbox.