Nationwide, more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities serve as home to more than 135 million Americans.
The Tree City USA program, administered by the Arbor Day Foundation in Lincoln, Neb., provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America that meet certain requirements. Those requirements include the establishment of a tree board or department, a community tree ordinance, specific spending levels for urban forestry and planned Arbor Day celebrations.
Today more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. It’s therefore fortunate we now understand many of the physical and psychological benefits healthy trees provide urbanites: Our parks and trees are more than aesthetically pleasing areas that help address pollution problems.
Children are spending more time than ever indoors and on electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and electronic games.
In the last 10 years or more, the medical field has found these sorts of habits and stresses are unhealthy and can affect the immune system.
California, as part of its greenhouse gas reduction initiative, has taken the unprecedented move of allocating a large pot of urban forestry money exclusively to disadvantaged communities plagued by pollution. Advocates for Urban Releaf, an Oakland-based urban forestry company, has applied for the forestry dollars as part of an ongoing statewide grant process. They are hopeful that the new program will go a long way toward adding greenery to historically neglected Oakland neighborhoods.
Brian Stone Jr. knows the urban heat island phenomenon well. Stone is one of the country’s foremost experts in urban heat; he has made a career of literally taking the temperature of communities. “Cities essentially create their own climates,” he says. “And the urban heat island effect is one way to measure that. There’s a heat island effect, really, in every large city.”
But in few places is it felt more than in Louisville, sometimes to deadly effect.
“Urban forestry,” the care and management of trees to improve the urban environment, is becoming better known and more appreciated. However, the fact remains that most people don’t stop often to think about the many benefits trees in urban settings provide both people and communities. There’s still work to be done.
Blog submitted by Daisy Masela Talatau, Urban & Community Forestry Program Coordinator. Talatau works for the Forestry Division at American Samoa Community College's Land Grant Community and Natural Resources.
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