Climate Action Plan - Measure A-2.2

 County Tree Planting

The County of San Diego’s Department of Parks and Recreation initiated a tree planting program with a goal to plant a minimum of 3,500 trees annually at County parks and open space preserves. County tree planting enriches local ecosystems, supports biodiversity, provides shade, prevents soil erosion, sequesters carbon from the atmosphere into the soil, and buffers against wind and noise.
  • 2020 Target: Plant 14,000 trees in the unincorporated county
  • 2030 Target: Plant a total of 49,000 trees in the unincorporated county

Total Trees Planted in County Parks

How are we doing?

Since 2014, the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has planted 30,029 trees at County parks and open space preserves.
In 2022, DPR planted 3,913 trees, exceeding our annual target of 3,500 trees per year. 
The County includes mature, 10-year-old trees in its tree-planting program to maintain and restore a mature stock of trees and to help speed up the carbon sequestration process.
Some of these trees include the Englemann Oak, which are compatible with San Diego's mild climate, can live for up to 400 years, are less susceptible to beetle infestation and drought, provide share, and are more resilient to climate change.

How is this measured?

The Department of Parks and Recreation tracks the number of trees planted on County park lands each year. The County tracks the species variety, number of trees planted, and park location. To meet our goal, the County must plant 3,500 trees each year.

Why is this important?

During photosynthesis plants take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to oxygen and carbon-based plant matter, storing carbon in the soil. As part of the natural carbon cycle, trees store significant amounts of carbon because of their size and longevity while also providing habitat, clean air, beauty, shade, and contributing to community wellbeing. Trees draw greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere to sequester carbon within the tree roots, wood, leaves, and soil. As the tree grows, it continues to absorb more carbon. 

Where are we going?

By 2030, the County aims to plant 49,000 trees and an additional 70,000 tress between 2031-2050. To analyze canopy coverage in the unincorporated county, the County will conduct a Tree Canopy Assessment by 2025. 
Trees will be planted at parks that have suffered the largest loss to their tree canopies due to prolonged drought and spread of invasive species, such as the Goldspotted Oak Borer which only attacks oak trees. Specifically, these parks include the Dos Picos County Park in Ramona, San Elijo Lagoon in Cardiff, and William Heise County Park in Julian. As part of a larger comprehensive tree program, the County catalogs existing trees and establishes requirements for maintaining tree density and diversity in all County parks.
Planting a variety of trees including native species makes parks less susceptible to disease and supports local plants and animals living in distinctive ecosystems. For every tree that falls or is lost to disease or fire, the County replaces it at a 3 to 1 ratio to ensure a flourishing tree canopy over time.

Want to learn more?

Ask an Expert: Planting for the Future