1. what the project implies
2. benefits to the town hall
5. involve and
This section contains information for the
municipalities in general
THE PROJECT INVOLVES
The project does not require a high degree
of commitment from the local administration, other than a minimum
degree of maintenance, nor does it incur high costs. The town hall
simply has to assign an unused though accessible green public area or
part of a garden. As a community inspired project, there is no need to
mobilize an entire department, and just a few clear rules are enough to
get started. See below section "directions and requirements" or click
on the left-side menu.
The purpose of this website is to provide guidance on how to start up
the project with a easy to follow methodology and a simple set of
solutions so as to minimize preparation and coordination time and thus
allow local councils to focus on the few operational aspects.
TO THE TOWN HALL
This initiative provides many noted benefits to all those involved.
TO THE ENVIRONMENT
- An increase in the arboreal heritage of the community with little
- A reduction in climate change impacts (CO2, temperature, and so on).
- A contribution to sustainable development programmes (Agenda 21,
Kyoto Protocol, and so on).
- Creation of a new form of urban or peri-urban landscape.
TO THE COMMUNITY
- Availability of a public green space in which to get directly
- Direct and indirect improvement of citizens’ welfare.
- Identification of a place of belonging and sharing.
- Strong educational value for individuals and families.
TO THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Creation of a public space that would bring together citizens of all
- Promotion of active citizenship through a project that is easy to
- Low investment cost of the initiative as labour and trees are
provided by the citizens.
- An improvement in the image of the administration.
- Minimal time, resources and financial commitment.
CRITERIA FOR THE ALLOCATION OF AREA
It must be a public area belonging to the local council intended for
use as an urban garden, agricultural or forested land and not subject
to constraints. It may be a part of a pre-existing city park, a public
garden, or a grassy river embankment.
Deciding on an appropriate dimension will vary depending on the size of
the community and the availability of land. Ideally, an estimate of the
number of people supporting the initiative (citizens, schools,
associations, businesses) would be useful in order to correctly
estimate the area of green space required for the project. It is
important to also take into account the extra space needed by the tree
to grow. Tall trees will need an area of around 5–6 m (about 10
feet) in diameter, depending on the species, while other plants will
require around 3 m (5 feet) in diameter.
The area should be covered by fertile and pollution-free soil
with good drainage capacity. It doesn’t need to be grassy and
could be partially covered with vegetation and some trees. The surface
does not necessarily have to be flat, but it has to be easily
accessible. The local council can decide on the shape and
appearance of the site depending on their needs and availability, as
well as those of the community, while respecting the natural site and
If considered necessary, and in order to prevent unauthorized access
and facilitate entry, the assigned area could be fenced such that
access is limited to agreed times and periods in the year. This
decision could be motivated by the need to prevent vandalism or
LIST OF PREFERRED SPECIES
As a general rule, local plants should be used, especially
those that are less common or those that deserve to be known and
appreciated. Exotic plants or plants that do not thrive under the local
conditions or landscape should be avoided. For the benefit of citizens,
the local council should make available a list of suitable species,
which would also provide useful information on the local biodiversity.
The local council could also narrow the list to a predefined number of
species, or even one (thus creating a forest), although the latter
situation denies citizens of a choice according to their preferences.
A few, simple rules, should be in place from the outset. In
addition to ensuring a healthy distance between trees (described
above), the earth should be dug around the tree and covered with good
quality fertile soil with a drainage layer of gravel or crushed stone.
Trampling the soil around the plant will ensure that the plant is
secure, and fastening to a stake will further increase anchorage (if
required). The tree should be abundantly watered.
It is important to note that some plant species are associated with
species similar to them, while others coexist very well with different
DISTRIBUTION OF SPACE
Depending on the available surface area, it may be judicious to
calculate the number of trees that can be planted, taking into
consideration that taller trees need a distance of about 3 metres (10
feet) from other trees, while an average sized tree requires just 1.5
metres (5 feet).
With the layout map of the area and using a pair of compasses or
similar drawing instrument to demarcate plots, calculate tree space by
allotting a radius of 3 m (in scale) for tall trees, and 1.5 m for
others. This simple task helps define the ideal number of trees and
where they should be placed, which manages the space and thus prevents
organizational issues later on.
The division into plots will prove useful to citizens too, as they will
know exactly where to plant their tree. Moreover, signage can identify
areas reserved for planting.
As regards the number of trees to be planted, the local council should
define the maximum number of trees that can be planted in the space
available in order to meet the demands of citizens and, and in the
event of over-subscription, find ways and means to extended the plots
or make available an additional site.
PLANTING DAY AND RULES OF ACCESS
As we said before the best time to plant a tree is the vegetative rest
period (which differs from one species to another, but generally goes
from September to March for plants with leaves, and October to April
for evergreens). Knowing that and depending on the region’s
climate, the municipality can choose one or more specific days.
Each municipality have to make its own assessments based on the
preferences of the stakeholders (citizens, schools, clubs, etc...) to
organize admission times to this site, which in the end belongs to the
community. For logistic reasons, and due to the fact that the land
could be fenced, you can choose a favorable schedule for everyone.
THE DONORS REGISTER (optional)
For management and organizational reasons, some municipalities may record
donors, which would be useful to advertise the "gift-act", but
also, more practically, to avoid setting up disputes or problems which
might occur later on.
The register could contain the names and surnames of people who
appreciate public registration, while for those who prefer to stay
anonymous an abbreviation or a code could be used. Moreover, by
including the date of planting and tree species, the register would
provide an inventory of plants and their age. Each municipality can
choose whether and how to disclose the register, e.g. in the citizens
tree garden, the city hall and so on.
It is also possible to register the trees donated on the website of the
UNEP Environment Program United Nations campaign on "The billion tree
campaign”, which is explained on this: link.
TOOL KIT FOR PLANTING
The municipality may choose to make available to the citizens tools
such as blades (to dig and make holes), watering cans, fertile soil,
gravel, ropes (to secure the plants to tree-stakes), or explicitly
request that everyone brings such tools, indicating it clearly. And
just in case, it is good to keep a fair stock of what above mentioned,
for those who would eventually forget to bring such materials, or would
bring in not an appropriate or sufficient way.
Once the trees have been planted, during their growth, little
maintenance might be required (to be established in a defined
number of hours per year) for the area/garden, as it is for any
communal garden. The days of maintenance can be fixed and communicated
to the citizens, who might like to attend or participate in the
operations, if allowed.
Citizens should be informed of the maintenance days (established in
advance) in case they wish to participate, whenever it’s possible.
RULES OF CONDUCT
In addition to the normal rules of civility, and respect for other
people's trees, some “to-do” and some “not-
to-do things” can be defined. For example, individuals should
not use products to combat pests, or bring harmful chemicals or
Inappropriate behavior (such as playing football, fires etc.) should be
banned; it should be more or less like in a botanical garden.To avoid
unpleasant situations dogs and other animals shouldn’t be allowed
(if not on a leash), at least during the period of trees growth.
POSTERS AND PANELS
It would be good to have a bulletin board at the entrance of
the area explaining the project, rules of conduct and timetables. The
board could also show a map of the garden with its subdivisions and,
eventually the Register of Donors (of course with their consent). The logo
designed for this project can be used, previous authorization from
As in any public area, litter bins should be disposed proportionally to
the size of the place. It is a little thing often overlooked, but very
useful to keep the area tidy and clean.
INVOLVE AND DISSEMINATE
To boost the initiative, it could be good to involve other institutions
that might be interested in spreading the idea. To name a few:
Educational institutions might be actively interested in the project.
With their help, environmental courses focusing on trees and ecology
could be prepared. Outdoors activities can be arranged to plant a tree
or just to visit.
ENVIRONMENTAL, PHILANTHROPIC, NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATIONS, ETC.
The different associations of a municipality can obviously be involved
in the project.
First of all the environmental associations that can provide a specific
knowledge and support, but also associations of all types and levels
that are consistent with the values and intent of the project.
Clearly concerned for business reasons (but not only), nurseries can
help in the development of the project, for instance with discounts
during the planting period, or advertising the project in their shops,
or even becoming sponsors.
Any other entity, such as patrons, foundations, companies wishing to
actively contribute to the success of the initiative, can obviously be
involved, according to the requirements of each administration.
(WAYS OF ENCOURAGEMENT)
If thought relevant each municipality can choose among different ways
of encouragement, as financial contributions, agreements with garden
nurseries (e.g. special prices for the trees), or offering gadgets like
wood guardians or bags in eco canvas.
To give recognition to the project it is important to use adequate
means of communication and information. As already mentioned, the
gift-a-tree logo (click on the word to see it) can
be used to promote
Here some suggestions to spread the idea around:
Newspapers and local TV networks will find it interesting to draw
attention on the “gift- a-tree garden” project (or whatever
other name) as it is easy to understand and of an immediate
communicational impact. With all the environmental and public benefits,
the project is worth to be highlighted. Also, a printed paper with the
main ideas and goals of the initiative should be submitted to the
press. The website gift-a-tree.net can also be used as a reference.
BROCHURES, POSTERS AND INTERNET
Other ways the municipality has to make the project known are:
- distribute brochures in public places, explaining the aims and
details of the initiative;
- put up explanatory posters where it is permitted;
-dedicate a page to the project on the municipality website, or in the
town councillorship webpage, or on the news page;
- send specific notifications to mailing lists.
Nothing takes from organizing side events or actions to support the
initiative, according to the environmental principles which inspire the