Savannah Tree Foundation Kicks Off Tree Equity Initiatives in Chatham County with Westside Park Planting

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, March 7th, 2024

March 6, 2024  Earlier this year, local nonprofit organization Savannah Tree Foundation (STF) was awarded a $1 million, four-year Trees Across Georgia (TAG) Grant to address tree inequity in Chatham County. STF’s first TAG-funded planting took place on February 22nd with a planting event at Westside Park in Hudson Hill.

STF, along with a volunteer team from International Paper, planted 25 shade trees to also serve as noise and pollution buffers.

“We were thrilled to kick off our Trees Across Georgia grant project with a planting at Westside Park,” said Zoe Rinker, Executive Director of STF, “These 25 trees are a great example of how trees can enhance our public spaces, not just aesthetically, but through providing shade, encouraging outdoor physical activity, cleaning polluted air, and providing noise buffers for our neighbors.” 

This is just the beginning of STF’s TAG-funded projects. The TAG grant is funded by the federal Inflation Reduction Act as a passthrough grant managed by the Georgia Forestry Commission.  

TAG will also be used to fund the Canopy Corps program, a year-long arboriculture apprenticeship for those that are not traditionally represented in the arboriculture field.  Recruiting for the apprenticeship begins next month. 

Participants in the program will attain the skills necessary to work in arboriculture or a related field. The curriculum will include work readiness skills, job-specific abilities, and knowledge development.  As a significant part of this program, apprentices will plant yard trees in historically underserved neighborhoods to increase tree canopy and address tree inequity in these areas.

Participants will be paid, full-time workers trained by STF staff and community partners. STF anticipates more than 1600 new trees will be planted across Chatham County by the end of this program.

The program’s first cohort kicks off in June 2024, with additional yearly cohorts through 2027.

Savannah Tree Foundation (STF) has planted over 5,500 trees since its founding and is committed to protecting and growing the tree canopy in Savannah and Chatham County through planting, protecting, and engaging the community. To learn more about STF, their work, and how to get involved, please visit