Delaware Department of Agriculture First State Agency To Make Pledge

DOVER, Del. (March 18, 2021) – The Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is the first state agency in the United States to make a pledge that supports the global goal to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees by 2030.

DFS will work with a wide range of partners to secure resources needed to meet the goal of conserving, restoring, and growing one million trees by 2030. DFS plans to support the initiative by utilizing best management practices for forest protection and restoration, conservation of soil and water resources, and increasing the urban tree canopy. Healthy forests are a critical nature-based solution to climate change. Forests in the United States and forest products currently capture almost 15 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

“A commitment to protect and enhance Delaware’s forests is in the best interest of everyone,” said Delaware State Forester Michael Valenti. “Community trees and rural forests provide so many natural benefits, but the most valuable of them all is a forest’s contribution to a clean and healthier environment.”

Encompassing 1.25 million acres, Delaware has nearly 360,000 forested acres. With 78 percent of the state’s forests privately owned, the Delaware Forest Service (DFS) recognizes that technical assistance will be vital to achieving the pledge made to the U.S. Chapter. The agency employs 22 full-time forest service staff, including professional foresters, conservation technicians, education, communication, and administrative professionals. These experts will provide technical assistance, funding, and education to serve as the foundation for tree planting, conservation, reforestation, forest management, and wildlife protection throughout Delaware.

“We are continuing our commitment to the State of Delaware by focusing on participating in sustainable forestry and stewardship, restoring forested wetlands and headwater forests, and promoting sound soil and water conservation practices,” said Urban Forestry Coordinator Kesha Braunskill. “While planting trees is an important component to increasing our tree canopy, it’s essential for us to protect and maintain the trees we already have. Trees are an important means to combat climate change by benefiting the quality of life and reducing the heat island effects especially in our underserved communities throughout Delaware where climate effects are most impactful.”

DFS also plans to assist new and existing businesses in opening new markets for forest products and increasing forestry professionals within the industry. Research has shown that for every million dollars invested in tree planting and forest restoration activities, 40 new jobs are created, improving Delaware’s local economy.

“States in the U.S. have a vital role to play in reaching the trillion trees goal, given that they are on the frontlines with private landowners and communities,” said American Forests President and CEO Jad Daley. “We are thrilled to have Delaware continue its proud ‘first state’ tradition by making the first state-level pledge to the U.S. Chapter of In addition to demonstrating how states can accelerate efforts to conserve, restore and grow forests, Delaware is contributing vital urban forestry expertise by having Kesha Braunskill of the Delaware Forest Service on the chapter’s U.S. Stakeholder Council.”

The U.S. Chapter, led by American Forests and World Economic Forum, was created in August 2020, shortly after the Forum launched its global initiative. The chapter is championing a new approach in the U.S. to creating healthy and resilient forests. Central to this approach is a diverse group of government agencies, non-profit organizations, corporations, and others who facilitate knowledge exchange, surface new collaboration opportunities, and unlock the full potential needed to accelerate and scale-up forests-related ambitions and actions. There is no other means in the U.S. for bringing together organizations that have made commitments related to forests to learn from each other and help each other achieve their goals.

To learn more about the pledge made to the U.S. Chapter of by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Delaware Forest Service, visit


New book offers guide to “Big Trees of Delaware”

Big Trees of Delaware 5th Edition

William Seybold, Delaware Forest Service or (302) 698-4553


DOVER, Del. — The Delaware Forest Service has published the newest edition of its popular “Big Trees of Delaware,” a comprehensive list of the largest trees covering nearly 80 native and non-native species in the First State. Featuring full-color photos and high-quality illustrations of tree leaves, the book is available as a print edition at state forest offices, as well as an online PDF version to be downloaded or viewed on a web browser.  There is no cost for the book.

There is also an ESRI “story map” application spotlighting Delaware’s “Big Tree Champs” that includes an interactive location-based guide to many of the champion trees.

“The new Big Trees of Delaware, 5th Edition is the culmination of many hours of hard work by Delaware Forest Service staff who went to public museums, parks, gardens, and private lands throughout the First State to measure these trees. While a good number of champion trees have carried over from the previous fourth edition, there are also many new champions. We hope the public will use this book as a valuable guide to go visit some of these amazing big trees, as well as learn to identify the unique characteristics and features of each tree species,” said Bill Seybold, the Delaware Forest Service’s forest health specialist who oversee its “Big Trees” program. “Maybe someone will notice a big tree and nominate it as a possible candidate to be included in our next edition.”

Delaware’s “Big Tree” program is affiliated with the National Register of Big Treesa list of the largest living specimens of each tree variety found in the continental United States. A tree on this list is called a “National Champion Tree.” The directory has been maintained since 1940 by American Forests. Founded in 1875 as the American Forestry Association (AFA), American Forests is the oldest national conservation organization in the United States. To be eligible, a species must be recognized as native or naturalized in the continental U.S., including Alaska.

Currently, only one tree in Delaware is listed on the National Register of Big Trees: an Osage-orange (Maclura pomifera) at Hagley Museum in Wilmington. At 412 points, it is considered a “co-champion” tree because it is within five points of two trees located in Virginia (416 points and 414 points respectively).

Measuring a “Big Tree”

Three distinct measurements are used to compare trees of the same species. These numbers are added to create a total point value and the tree with the most points is crowned a “champion tree.” If a tree is within five points of a champion, it is called a “co-champion.”

1. Circumference:
Circumference at Breast Height (or CBH as it is often referred) is measured in inches at a point on the tree trunk 4-1/2 feet above the ground. If a tree grows on a slope, the 4-1/2 foot point is determined from its uphill side. The tree must have a single trunk for a least 4-1/2 feet to be deemed a single tree. A tree forked below 4-1/2 feet is considered two trees. One point is given for each inch of circumference.

2. Height:
Tree height is measured from the ground line to the highest point on the tree. If a tree grows on a slope, the line is determined from the uphill side. Height measurements are difficult to make without a proper instrument, and most professional foresters use an Abney level or a clinometer. One point is given for each foot of height.

3. Average Crown Spread:
Two measurements are taken at the outer edges (drip line) of the spreading crown to measure its average spread. Measurements are recorded in feet at the widest point of crown spread and at the narrowest point. These two measurements are added together and divided by two to get the average crown spread. One-fourth of a point is given for each one foot of average crown spread (or one point for each four feet of spread).



This zelkova tree in Greenville is the largest of any tree species recorded in Delaware.

Largest Tree

  • The largest tree in Delaware is located in New Castle County and it also has the largest circumference. The massive zelkova (Zelkova serrata) at 501 Hillside Road in Greenville has a circumference of 325 inches (over 27 feet around) and has 448 total points.

Tallest Tree

  • Delaware’s tallest tree is a yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) at Winterthur in Wilmington that is 173 feet high. With 438 total points, it is the second largest tree in the First State.

Widest Crown Spread

  • The sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) at Valley Garden Park in Wilmington is 143 feet across at its widest point with an average crown spread of almost 136 feet. It has a total of 409 points.

“Smallest” Champion Tree

  • Delaware’s smallest champion tree is a blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) at Mt. Cuba Center in Greenville that measures 29 feet high  and has a total of 57 total points.

Largest in Kent County

  • Willow oak (Quercus phellos) at the Garden Hedge at 1626 Williamsville Road in Houston has a total of 367 points.
  • The famous American elm (Ulmus americana) on The Green in Dover has a total of 367 points.

Largest in Sussex County

  • Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) at West side of Hickman Road, north of Scotts Store Road in Greenwood has a total of 433 points and is currently the third largest tree in the State of Delaware.