Urban Forestry

Program History

    The Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust initiated an Urban Forestry Program in 1995 to meet the demands of the City's neighborhoods for tree planting and beautification. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provided a $25,000 to launch the program with the planting of trees throughout the neighborhood of Centralville.

    In 1996, the Trust initiated a program to plant 2000 trees by the year 2000 ("2000 for 2000") and conducted a city-wide survey of the City's public shade trees. One out of every five city trees was surveyed for species, size, and condition. This groundbreaking study revealed that the City's trees: lacked diversity, were in decline, and needed improved maintenance. This is a common story throughout Massachusetts. In addition to the City's 13,300 publicly owned shade trees, there were found to be 2,400 vacant sites for future tree planting, indicating plenty of need for the new 2000 for 2000 initiative. Finally, the value of the City's urban forest was determined to be $32 million. This represents an investment by the City that needs to be maintained.

    With a strong base of support in the City's neighborhoods and armed with the knowledge from the tree survey, the Trust moved forward with enhancing the City's "green infrastructure," becoming a model for other cities to follow. In 1997, Lowell received its first designation as a Tree City USA. By the year 2000 the Trust had exceeded its goal of 2,000 newly planted trees, by planting or providing support for the planting of over 4,000 trees. Since then, our efforts have focused on providing technical assistance on tree projects throughout the City and in developing new policies related to the urban forest, such as the City's new tree ordinance (passed July 9, 2002). 

To learn more about urban forestry, check out Tales from Urban Forests, a radio series on how trees are impacting cities. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation also puts out a montly forestry newsletter, including information about native trees, upcoming forestry events and workshops, and more.

Project Spotlight

In October 2014, the Trust celebrated National NeighborWoods Month, an annual celebration of trees in our communities - making our cities cleaner, greener, and healthier! A special thank you to Lahey Hospital volunteers who planted 15 trees along Father Morrisette Blvd. This event was held in partnership with Lahey Hospital, Alliance for Community Trees, and EcoMedia CBS. Check out more pictures from the event here!

If you'd like to read more about the event, click here for a press release.


2014 Planting Projects

Annually, the Trust applies competitively for support for tree planting through the City's federally funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.  Funding through this program has provided trees throughout the city's neighborhoods, improving the streetscape, air quality, property values, and quality of life. Our tree planting projects completed by the end of the fiscal year 2014 included:

  • Baldwin Street Neighborhood
  • Daley Sports Complex
  • Edson Cemetery
  • Father Maguire Park
  • Father Morrissette Blvd.
  • Fay Street Park
  • Fels Park
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • House of Hope
  • Lowell High School
  • Lucy Larcom Park
  • Market Street Garage
  • Merrimack Street
  • Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership, first-time homebuyers
  • Rogers School
  • Shedd Park
  • Smith Street Community Garden
  • Spalding House Park
  • Stoklosa Middle School
  • Thorndike Street
  • Victory Park
  • Washington School

If you'd like to work with us on a tree planting project in your neighborhood, at a local school, or your favorite park, please Contact Us. We prioritize projects that provide broad public benefit over individual tree plantings on sidewalks. The demand for our assistance is too high to typically meet individual homeowner tree requests, but we do keep a running list of sites in case we get several on one street.

May 2011, twelve first time homebuyers recieved trees from the Trust through our partnership with Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership - Project Genesis (left).