Whether swaying in the background of a Super Bowl glamour shot or printed on Art Deco-themed postcards, palm trees are synonymous with the sun-and-fun allure of Miami Beach. In a city with nearly 50,000 trees, more than half have fronds. But due to rising temperatures, that’s about to change.
To help address the consequences of climate change, city leaders will cut back on the number of new palms in the city and add more eco-friendly shade trees to the Beach’s canopy.
Guided by an urban forestry master plan, which the Miami Beach City Commission unanimously approved in October, city officials are working to reduce the concentration of palms to 25% of the total canopy by 2050. The city says the cutback — intended to help reduce urban warming, improve air quality and absorb more carbon and rainwater — will be accomplished during upcoming construction projects that already require the removal of trees, partly by removing some palms but mostly by adding new shade trees.
“Palms, while an iconic part of Miami Beach’s landscape, have moved from being an accent plant to a major component of the city’s urban forest,” the urban forestry master plan reads.
As a poster child for the climate emergency, Miami Beach has become a world leader in mitigating the effects of sea-level rise. Now the subtropical Florida city is cutting back on its famous swaying palm trees as it seeks shadier alternatives to preserve its environment and try to keep residents and visitors cool.
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Officials have embarked on a 30-year plan to reduce the percentage of palm trees in the city to only one quarter of its total canopy by 2050, according to the Miami Herald. Currently, Arecaceae palms account for more than 55% of the city’s population of 48,900 trees.
The cutback is needed, the newspaper says, to reduce urban warming and improve air quality, and about 1,000 palm trees will be removed in the coming weeks as part of already scheduled construction projects.