Louisville’s Urban Forest & A Remarkable Metro Parks Employee

By Jacob Murphy
Communications Coordinator

Ah, the urban forest. It may sound like an oxymoron, but its greenery brightens and breathes life into the Louisville tapestry that otherwise would be smothered by dulling metal and concrete.  There are few people who understand the benefits of the urban forest more than Metro Parks’ own, Dr. Mesude Duyar-Ozyurekoglu.

Mesude is the Metro Parks Forestry and Landscape Manager. She is responsible for the care and attention of over 15,000 individual trees in the Metro Parks System.  Mesude developed her knowledge and appreciation for forestry in Turkey at the University of Istanbul.  After she received her bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Mesude worked for the Turkish government for ten years and eventually earned her PhD in Forestry in 2005.

Light Up Louisville!Mesude’s education and experience alone are enough to make her standout, but it’s her foresight and understanding of people in relation to nature that make her truly remarkable.  She is even trusted with the daunting task of picking out the city’s Christmas tree for the annual Light Up Louisville event.  This may seem like a simple enough task, but not even Santa’s Sleigh could haul all of the emotions attached to those twinkling lights. This tree is important to folks.  The sanctity of the holiday spirit may not depend solely on the perfection of the city’s Christmas tree, but one could certainly find a correlation.  Thankfully, every year our city tree is beautiful with gorgeous lights woven midst lush green branches. Mesude and her work are both something the city can be proud of all year-long. 

Too often extraordinary people doing amazing things go unnoticed.  On behalf of the Metro Parks team I would like to publicly thank Dr. Mesude Duyar-Ozyurekoglu for all she does.  Because the truth is without the passion from people like Mesude, Louisville would just be another city lost amongst the map dots.

Urban Forest Facts:

Trees Improve Quality of Life – Trees create relaxing, beautiful, healthy spaces, absorb traffic noise and increase privacy.

Trees Strengthen Communities – The involvement of people in the planting and care of local trees can help build a stronger sense of neighborhood and civic pride.

Trees Increase Property Values – A row of mature street trees has been shown to increases property values between 5- 18%.

Trees Save Energy – A recent study at the Center for Urban Forest Research found that strategically planting shade trees could reduce the need for power plants in the long-term.

Trees Clean the Air – According to the U.S. Forest Service research, through photosynthesis the average tree in a residential neighborhood will annually clean about 330 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air as well as provide enough oxygen for a family of four.

Trees Help Reduce Global Warming – Trees reduce the emission of carbon dioxide (by decreasing energy needs) and then absorbing the carbon dioxide released from our cars, homes, and power plants. Too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the primary cause of global climate change.

Trees Decrease Flooding – Trees reduce flooding by helping to reduce runoff. A typical community forest of 10,000 trees will retain approximately 10 million gallons of rainwater per year (United States Forest Service Research).

Trees Reduce Stress – Urban residents and workers suffering from stress have been found to experience less anger, sadness and insecurity when viewing well-treed surroundings.

Trees Help Kids Learn – Studies have shown that students’ attention spans are increased when they have a view that includes tress.

Trees Grow Business – Research from the University of Washington indicates that “…healthy and well-maintained trees send positive messages about the appeal of a [business] district, the quality of products and what customer service a shopper can expect.”

Source: Friends of the Urban Forest


4 thoughts on “Louisville’s Urban Forest & A Remarkable Metro Parks Employee

  1. James Robert November 11, 2011 / 8:57 pm

    Certified Arborist? I couldn’t find record of her certification on the International Society of Arboriculture’s website. However, there are other Metro Parks employees who are certified.

    • louparks November 14, 2011 / 1:49 pm

      You are correct. I was misinformed about Mesude’s arborist certification. I will make that correction. And as you mentioned, a majority of Mesude’s staff are certified arborists. Your fact checking is appreciated!


  2. Chas Johnson November 22, 2011 / 10:20 am

    Where did the city Christmas tree come from? I saw it being transporterd and wondered how that whole process happens, including how much it costs to do that. Any answers?

    • louparks January 3, 2012 / 5:30 pm

      The city’s Christmas tree is donated each year. This year’s tree came from Tom and Cathy Young. Tom and Cathy are the first repeat tree donors for Light Up Louisville, having also donated a tree in 2008. The donated trees have a historical value as Cathy’s Aunt, Evelyn Tate, brought the tree as a sapling over with her from Germany in the late 1940’s. Evelyn and her husband, Jake, were stationed in Germany during World War II. Evelyn and Jake lived just outside the military base while Jake worked as a soldier and Evelyn as a commissary. During their shared day off they often took walks through the Black Forest in southwestern Germany. During these walks Jake would collect Pine cones and bring them back to their residence. Together they raised 6 saplings while stationed in Germany. When flying back to the States, Evelyn concealed the saplings in her purse. Three of the saplings where planted on Tom and Cathy’s property and three were given to family in Somerset, Kentucky.

      The tree move event is supported by LG&E and other donors. The actual cost to the city (including labor and equipment) is around $800.

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