Class for New Tree Stewards Begins

Kudzu at Azalea Park

Unless you are an arborist, forester or otherwise have extensive tree knowledge, volunteers become Tree Stewards by taking our 15-week fall class. It combines online lectures on over 20 tree-related topics – from tree biology to tree risk assessment – with field sessions on tree identification, forest ecology, pruning, planting and controlling non-native invasive plant threats to our forests. The class launched on August 3rd and concludes on November 13.

First field day, just prior to setting out on walks at the Ivy Creek Natural Area to learn how to identify trees using a key and tree features such as leaves, bark and twigs.

Checking in and sampling the refreshments table at the start of the second field day which addressed non-native invasive plant identification and treatment and was held at Azalea Park in Charlottesville.

William Hamersky, a Tree Steward since 2016, describes some of the hand and power tools commonly used to control non-native invasive plants.

Beth Mizell, Program Director at the Blue Ridge Partnership for Regional Invasives Species Management, describes how to treat kudzu, which can be seen behind her on the banks of Moore’s Creek at Azalea Park. Sometimes referred to as “the plant that ate the South,” kudzu is manageable and Beth shares details with new Tree Stewards on a range of treatment options to control this significant threat to our forests.

Although we won’t be offering the class again until next fall, if you are interested in becoming a Tree Steward or would like to learn more about what we do to support urban and rural forests in Piedmont Virginia or volunteering with us, contact us at

Online Classes Have Started!

Kathy Nepote
Emily Ferguson
Trees can be identified by their fall leaf color

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards has re-initiated its free Tree Basics Public Education program online using ZOOM.

In late October, Tree Steward Emily Ferguson offered a class on how to identify trees in the fall. Participants learned tips and tricks to identify the major woody plant families and species found in Central Blue Ridge forests using the color of their foliage.

Last evening, Tree Steward Kathy Nepote offered a class on the importance of trees to wildlife. In addition to providing a wide variety of habitat, trees are central to a complex food web that includes nuts, berries, leaves, and insects.  All are essential for the survival of our diverse wildlife (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and the insects they feed on).  The session emphasized how vital native plants are to their survival and raised our awareness of the importance of trees, both living and dead, the complex nature of plant and wildlife interactions and pointed out visible signs of wildlife in our environment.

We have a full schedule of new sessions planned for 2021, offered either on weekday evenings or weekends so that all can enjoy them. One of the benefits of offering these sessions online is that there is virtually no limit on the number of those who can participate in these free sessions:

  • Pruning landscape trees, Saturday morning, January 23rd.
  • Winter tree identification, Tuesday evening, February 9th.
  • Select, plant and care for trees, Saturday afternoon, March 20.
  • Identify trees in spring, Tuesday evening, April 13.
  • Identify and control non-native invasive plants, Sunday afternoon, May 23; and
  • Identify trees in summer on Tuesday evening, June 15th.

Visit our website to see when registration opens.

Enhancing the Tree Canopy in Belmont


For the second year in a row, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards paired with the Charlottesville Tree Commission to plant trees on private property around the Belmont area. With a generous grant from the Ballyshannon Fund, we acquired 23 trees for the project. On the chilly morning of November 9, five teams of CATS members and Tree Steward trainees, joined by seven members of the Tree Commission, planted the trees at various locations around the neighborhood and advised homeowners on how to maintain them.

The principal objective of these projects is to increase Charlottesville’s tree canopy, which is measured every five years by aerial photography and is on the decline. The city’s tree canopy dropped from 50 percent in 2004 to 45 percent in 2014, and we expect to see a further decrease when the next aerial survey is completed in 2020. Planting trees in the yards of homes and on other private property is critical to reversing this trend. CATS urges people in the community to help us identify other Charlottesville neighborhoods that suffer from a sparse canopy and that could benefit from the environmental and economic advantages of having more trees.