Equity through city trees

Lets start with a kind of “soft disclaimer,” it would be great if society could see trees for their own intrinsic value and try to live amongst them, even in cities. However, we are living in an era where things are often only taken into account when a monetary value can be assigned to them. Beyond that wishful thinking, this piece at YES! Magazine provides an excellent look at all the benefits trees can bring to citizens, as well as various projects aiming to reliably measure those benefits along various metrics, including dollars and cents, and bring them to neighbourhoods who need a hand.

Trees—and urban trees in particular—provide enormous benefits. For starters, they’re responsible for producing oxygen and removing CO2 and other pollutants from the air. […]

The U.S. Forest Service estimates that trees reduce the energy consumption needed to cool homes in the U.S. by more than 7%.

A bit like Soul Fire Farm, which we’ve looked at before, Trees Forever doesn’t look only to natural benefits but also at the community they serve and all their needs, including jobs.

Trees Forever provides teens with professional development resources such as resume-building, mock interviews, financial literacy courses, stress management tools, and shadowing professionals in green jobs.

Since the neighbourhoods with the fewest trees are often missing more than just trees, there’s also an environmental justice angle to greening their streets, bringing benefits not only to the city as a whole, but to the health of the people living there.

Urban trees don’t just store carbon, they reduce stormwater, they improve air, they provide energy savings in terms of heating and cooling. They can, if done right, tremendously advance environmental justice—they provide human health benefits, biodiversity, bird and pollinator habitat, slope stability, and the list goes on. They are like utilities, [t]hey provide incredible services.

As is often the case, the most interesting projects are found at the intersection of different ideas. Urban forests offer us one such example, providing not only global atmospheric benefits, but also ecosystem benefits, resilience, and mitigation benefits. According to Mark McPherson, founder and director of a Seattle nonprofit called City Forest Credits, “very seldom do you get a climate action that fits all of those.”