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But, as Valerie Yurks asks in the Guardian, are these plans equitable? As Eric Candela, senior manager of the Community ReLeaf program at American Forests, told The Guardian, “Tree equity is about more than just planting more trees. You can plant more trees but not achieve equity.” This week, as fires burn in the West, there is a focus on tree planting because an ambitious effort to plant 1 trillion trees globally (1t.org) kicked off in the U.S. with many big corporate sponsors. And while they say environmental justice is “central to their vision,” they also admit that they won’t be able to plant as many trees in cities.
Why This Matters: As we have reported previously, urban heat islands disproportionately affect Black neighborhoods due to a history of redlining and structural discrimination. And, as The Guardian noted, heat-related deaths are most likely highest among communities of color, who are heavily impacted by heat-related illnesses, including asthma and pregnancy difficulties. When prioritizing tree cover, cities should also prioritize racial and socio-economic equity in order to create true environmental justice for all.
Trees and Heat Islands
As NPR reported, “trees can play a huge role in the health of people living in cities,” as they help mitigate heat islands. Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests, emphasized to NPR that this is no small matter: “If you live in an area in cities that is seeing more extreme heat days, but you don’t have tree cover to cool down your neighborhood, that can literally be a life or death issue.”
But more can and must be done. Cities across the country must follow Seattle’s lead to work with communities of color to shape tree-related policies. And, given the high mortality rate of trees, it’s no easy task to create a sustained canopy. Nevertheless, cities must continue in order to eliminate tree-inequity amongst local communities.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer On Friday, just one day before National Public Lands Day, the Trump administration moved to expand development in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States as well as the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the world. About 55% of the forest is currently protected […]
As wildfires across the West continue to rage, President Trump has continued to push the message that the cause of the fires is solely due to poor forest management. It’s not a new message for Republicans, but science unequivocally points to the ways in which climate change is supercharging wildfires. Ezra Romero, an environmental reporter […]
by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer As Stefanie Glinski reported for the Thomson Reuters Foundation this week, large-scale deforestation in Afghanistan, due primarily to the past 40 years of war, has advanced flooding in the country (as trees prevent soil erosion and serve as a buffer against flooding). According to Glinski, “Trees have long been […]
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