St. Petersburg offers more than 2,300 acres of public land dedicated to parks and recreation. Trees and greenspace are an important part of St. Petersburg's built and natural environment. They promote social, economic, and environmental health by capturing and slowing rain; filtering air pollution; providing shade and healthier environments; providing food and habitat; and contributing to the character and aesthetic beauty of our neighborhoods and business districts. Preserves also provide refuges for native flora and fauna that are threatened by continuing urban development.
St. Petersburg has many trees in parks, but when looking at the city's overall canopy cover, the full tree canopy should include trees on private property and street right-of-way.
Key initiatives under the Mayor’s goals for Protection and Promulgation of Shade and Greenspace include:
- Citywide Urban Forestry Program
- Designated Tree Czar (Mayor David Fischer)
In 2016, the Office of Sustainability, in close coordination with the Parks & Recreation Department, the Environment, Natural Resources & Sustainability Committee (ENRS, a city council committee of elected officials), the City Beautiful Commission, and community members, will evaluate steps toward a full Urban Forestry Program including how to conduct and fund a citywide tree inventory. At the same time, the city will leverage any available funding toward proposals under way like strategic tree plantings across the city and a potential Road Canopy Program.
The Parks & Recreation Department has been a centerpiece of sustainability in the city, and has played the primary role in tree and greenspace programs. The following list highlights some of the recent and ongoing Tree Canopy and Planting Programs:
- Tree City USA 1986 - 2015
- City Beautiful Commission Gift Tree Program 1997- 2015 & Gizella Kopsick Arboretum
- Mayor’s Flowering Tree Program 2002-2009
- Mayor’s Interstate Flowering Tree Program 2007 – 2009
- Poinciana Tree Planting Program 2009
- Memorial Tree Program
- Tree inventory, 2012 for parks and public right-of-ways
Tree Removal and Planting Requirements
The Planning and Zoning Division also plays a primary role in protecting the city’s trees and setting landscape requirements. The Division employs an Urban Forester who implements the tree protection regulations, as well as tree maintenance crews who trim and remove trees as needed.
For additional information about the City’s Urban Forestry Regulations, see the Urban Forestry webpage.
Parks and Nature Preserves
The city’s park system includes active recreational parks, pedestrian/bike facilities (City Trails), and canoe/kayak trail systems (BlueWays). The city’s nature preserves include Boyd Hill Nature Preserve and Clam Bayou Preserve. The Weedon Island Preserve also in the City of St. Petersburg; it is owned by the state and operated by Pinellas County Parks Department. For more information on City Trails, see the Transportation and Land Use Section, and for more information on the city’s parks, go to http://www.stpeteparksrec.org/.