The City of Savannah partnered with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to form an advisory committee of community leaders for the city’s new Green Infrastructure to Green Jobs Initiative. This program will create three urban tree nurseries on vacant FEMA lots in Savannah neighborhoods.

A portion of the plantings will be grown for city use in rights of way, while the remaining trees will become permanent green infrastructure, creating pocket parks for the enjoyment of surrounding communities.

Hurricanes Matthew and Irma caused significant damage to Savannah’s tree canopy, with Hurricane Matthew costing over $13 million in tree debris removal and unknown losses in water storage from mature trees. The City of Savannah owns over 350 flood-prone FEMA lots that are underutilized community assets. As coastal Georgia experiences extremes in weather, municipal governments are looking to green infrastructure, such as tree canopies, to improve their resilience to major storm events.

The plantings will be paired with comprehensive green jobs training for unemployed and underemployed residents of Savannah, helping low-lying, low-income neighborhoods reduce their flood risk while providing STEM-based workforce development.

Additional project partners include the Savannah Tree Foundation, Victory Gardens, Work Source Georgia and the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission, with funding from The Kendeda Fund and the Southeast Sustainability Directors Network.