Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Volunteers Help WPC Achieve Gardens, Greenspaces Goals


The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy brings nature into our cities and towns and revitalizes public spaces through community gardens, green spaces and by planting street and park trees. Urban greening can provide energy savings, increase property values by up to 30 percent and strengthen community interactions, in addition to providing aesthetic and health values.

With the help of more than 13,000 volunteers, WPC planted and maintained 135 community gardens in 20 Western Pennsylvania counties during 2012. The Community Gardens and Greenspace staff also displayed 795 hanging baskets and 421 seasonal planters across downtown Pittsburgh.

The Conservancy is the managing partner of TreeVitalize Pittsburgh, which hit an important milestone in 2012. With the support of private foundations and public agencies, five partners and the hard work of 4,200 volunteers, the initiative planted its 15,000th tree in November. The partnership is well on its way toward its goal of planting 20,000 trees by the end of 2013.

WPC baskets hang near the North Shore of Pittsburgh.
WPC baskets hang near the North Shore of Pittsburgh.

TreeVitalize is the product of work by WPC and its partners – Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, Tree Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The trees, which are planted in the Pittsburgh region, benefit communities in a number of ways, including producing oxygen, purifying the air, sheltering wildlife, decreasing energy usage and increasing property values. All told, Pittsburgh’s street trees provide $2.4 million annually in economic and environmental benefits.

Also in 2012, the Conservancy installed an outdoor learning space at Morrow Elementary School, one of the final Pittsburgh public schools to receive a new green space through WPC’s School Grounds Greening program. To complement this work, WPC established a volunteer school tender program in 36 of the schools to help maintain the green spaces.

WPC volunteers and staff plant TreeVitalize’s 15,000th 
tree in Millvale, Pa.
WPC volunteers and staff plant TreeVitalize’s 15,000th tree in Millvale, Pa.

WPC installed its first trellis-style green wall in downtown Pittsburgh at the corner of 7th Street and Ft. Duquesne Boulevard. This 40-by-54-foot vertical garden on the river side of the Duquesne Light building enhances the urban street experience and will provide energy benefits such as shading the building in hot weather, reducing wind chill during winter and absorbing rainwater. The planted vines include Dutchman’s pipe, American bittersweet, virgin’s bower clematis and trumpet honeysuckle. They are planted in a raised bed at the bottom of the trellis and will eventually reach a height of up to 50 feet.

WPC is working with Grow Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to install community vegetable gardens in county neighborhoods. This program provides direct support to groups seeking to build new garden sites. In 2012, 12 vegetable gardens were established.