BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Tree Trust just marked a major milestone: the nonprofit organization commemorated its 10,000th tree planting Tuesday at Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park.

The effort is helping to restore Baltimore’s urban forest while making the city a healthier and greener place to live.

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“Trees create air. They literally cycle carbon dioxide out of the air and produce oxygen as a byproduct of their surviving of just living,” Justin Bowers, the group’s associate director, said. “That air and that filtering of the pollution out of the air is what keeps the environment in Baltimore in a high-quality state.”

Tuesday’s event saw the Baltimore Tree Trust team up with the Friends of Gwynns Falls Leakin Park to mark the occasion at Winans Meadow.

“We love the park, we live right next to it and it’s an incredible park,” Tony Crute with the Friends of Gwynns Falls Leakin Park said. “It’s one of the largest wild urban parks on the East Coast.”

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The groups planted 75 native trees Tuesday and by the end of the month will have planted a total of 200 new trees. It’s all part of a greater initiative spearheaded in the early 2000s by then-Mayor Martin O’Malley, who pledged to increase the city’s tree canopy to 40% by 2037.

“We’re growing every year,” Bowers said. “We’re planting 3,000 trees as an organization just this year alone and we’re hoping to expand to 10,000 trees a year by 2025.”

Advocates said trees are a public health tool, and amid the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the tree canopy in the city is more important than ever.

“When we’re talking about an area that has high rates of asthma, high rates of respiratory illnesses, chronic diseases… there’s really not a better tool that we have or more cost-effective tool that we have in helping preserve the environment we have,” Bowers said.

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