Date:August 02, 2012

Atlanta Botanical Garden Canopy Walk

The “story beneath the story” is the extraordinary and innovative tree protection and preservation methods undertaken to protect the trees (some of which are considered Georgia specimens over 100 years old) during construction of this one-of-a-kind attraction.

On the Canopy Walk, visitors to the Atlanta Botanical Garden can now tour one of the city’s last remaining urban forests – from 40 feet in the air! The result: a bird’s-eye view of the beauty of the woodland below.

Extending 600 feet from a bluff in the Garden into the branches of oaks, hickories and poplars, the unique reverse suspension bridge is considered the only tree canopy-level walkway of its kind in the United States. The Canopy Walk is an example of environmentally sensitive construction. As you can imagine, it’s incredibly difficult to build something like this in the middle of the woods. The entire construction team had to re-orient its operations. Here are some examples of steps that were taken to avoid damage to the trees.

All impact to trees, roots, and the soil ecosystem was controlled and minimized to avoid damage or disturbance.
Critical root zones were mapped, and access and installations were designed to protect roots and soil.
Equipment was restricted to temporary access roads built from suspended timbers and protective weight dispersion mats.
Walkways are suspended over root zones using piers and anchors, or a technique called “root bridging” that uses expanded slate and geo-textile fabric to prevent soil compaction.
Trenching for utilities was replaced by “Air Spade excavation” to blow soil away from roots and thread lines beneath them without damage.
Hundreds of tons of steel and concrete were required to build this Canopy Walk. Through careful planning, design, and construction, this structure shows how we can build while working to protect nature and trees. It all starts with a simple commitment and understanding that much of what we don’t see, the roots, must be protected from activities that cut, fill, or compact delicate soils.