School Tree Planting

Each year, the City’s Urban Forestry Program works with a variety of public and private schools throughout the City of Vancouver to provide and plant trees. School Tree Planting projects help connect students to the benefits of trees and foster environmental stewardship. These projects also support our larger community effort to help grow Vancouver’s tree canopy.

Schools are a major property owner within the city and an important stakeholder of our urban forest. Most of us recognize the beauty of trees and their many other values. They help protect our waterways by intercepting storm water, stabilizing soil and using nutrients that would otherwise wash into waterways. Environmental benefits such as clean air and water. Trees help moderate temperature and muffle noise. They even help improve air quality by absorbing some airborne compounds that could be harmful to us, and by giving off oxygen. Spending time around trees and in nature also makes us healthier and even improves our students’ academic performances.

This tree planting program is a learning opportunity to get kids involved in the environment and conservation of our natural resources. Recent scientific studies suggest students are better able to concentrate, complete tasks, and follow directions after playing in natural settings. Another study found self-discipline in girls can be achieved through increased exposure to nature.

These School Tree Planting projects connect students to the benefits of trees and foster environmental stewardship. Tree planting is a great way to increase student interest in their local environment and achieve academic goals. Each school tree planting provides educators with the opportunity to inspire school administrators, faculty and students to affect positive change at their schools and, in turn, their communities.

When students plant trees, they can see for themselves the structure of trees, learn what they need and how they grow. Teachers can use the planting process to discuss the benefits trees provide, while including many subjects that their classes are studying. As trees mature, the trees can be a continuing, personalized way of relating what they’ve learned in books to visible, living examples.

Students become aware that they can play a role in protecting the environment through personal involvement. Ultimately, it is hoped that the experience will help them make intelligent decisions about conservation and use of our valuable natural resources.

Here’s a quick look at how the City’s School Trees Program works: Project applications are accepted, reviewed, and approved throughout the year in conjunction with the respective school district. Keep in mind that tree planting is normally scheduled between October and April, so this may be a factor to consider along with the school calendar in making application. Urban Forestry provides the needed tools and trees, as well as technical assistance for each approved project, leading up to and on the day of the planting. With support of Urban Forestry staff, students serve as the primary planters, giving them a sense of ownership and increasing their knowledge of trees. Schools that participate in the program must commit to watering their new trees for a minimum of two years following planting.

Thinking of Applying?

Urban Forestry is interested in working with principals, teachers or staff at K-12 schools in Vancouver interested in adding approximately five or more trees to school property.

We recognize that not all schools may be participating in the program at any given time. Some districts may have pre-identified areas or schools where planting projects can be allowed. In addition, proposed project organizers must agree to help plant trees and commit to a two-year maintenance plan following the tree planting. To provide a successful partnership in planting and growing healthy trees, each proposed project must meet with the approval of your school principal and/or facilities department. 

To qualify for the free trees and assistance, approved School Tree projects are asked to help grow our City’s tree canopy by meeting a requirement of at least 60 percent shade and native trees and no more than 40 percent ornamental or understory trees. This requirement may be waived for special projects.

Once approved, successful project organizers – which may include teachers, principals, and/or student groups – will meet with Urban Forestry staff for a project planning orientation several months in advance. They will work with Urban Forestry staff to select tree species and planting locations on the school campus and to develop a maintenance schedule. Leading up to the event, various tree activities are available to engage students, including learning about the species of trees they will be planting, learning how to properly handle and plant trees, and understanding the value of trees.

For more information or to apply, please call Urban Forestry at 360-487-8308 or email Urban Forestry.