Healthy Urban Forests, Healthy Communities

Urban Forests

Improved Air and Water Quality

Reduced Heat Island Effects

Stronger Mental Health

Services and Co-Benefits of Trees

Healthy urban forests provide important services to residents. Every street tree is contributing to our health.

Air and water quality

Every tree is improving the air quality, filtering storm water, and reducing CO2.

Reducing Heat Island Effects

Urban areas in the Pacific Northwest are hotter than the surrounding forested areas. Here, trees are critical because they  improve energy savings and reduce these heat island effects by providing shade .

Improving Mental Health

Trees have also been linked with improved mental health and wellbeing by improving the quality of place and our journeys.

Recommended Article

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Trees as infrastructure: Part one

We are seeing a growing acknowledgement of the importance of trees to combat (and mitigate the impacts of) the climate crisis-including within our cities. However, a series of structural problems inherent in our urban forestry management processes are working against the more and more ambitious tree-planting targets that cities are announcing.

"Unfortunately, healthy urban forests are disproportionately cultivated and accessible."
Joey Hulbert
Program Director

Urban Forest Equity

Sadly, many of the hottest neighborhoods in cities are those occupied by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Arguably, the root of this injustice stems from America’s racist ideals and practices in the 1930s.

1936 Home Owners' Loan Cooporation

In the 1930s, the Home Owners’ Loan Cooporation (HOLC) determined the best and worst neighborhoods for bank investments in major cities throughout the US.

The legacy of these decisions is still apparent today.  Neighborhoods that were less eligible for financial investment opportunities have reduced forest canopy coverage and greater heat levels. More information and data available at the Mapping Inequality Project.

Recommended Article

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How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering

RICHMOND, Va. - On a hot summer's day, the neighborhood of Gilpin quickly becomes one of the most sweltering parts of Richmond. There are few trees along the sidewalks to shield people from the sun's relentless glare. More than 2,000 residents, mostly Black, live in low-income public housing that lacks central air conditioning.

Additional Resources

Trees for Seattle Story Map

Wellness and Equity - Urban Forest Opportunities


Trees as a civil right: ‘All we have is cement and pavement’

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King County RedHot Hypothesis Test

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Seattle - Tree Health and Redlining Study

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Portland - Tree Health and Redlining Study

Visit these trees in Portland

urban western redcedar trees with top dieback
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