Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) today, American Forests announced plans to expand its Tree Equity Score tool to the United Kingdom in 2023, in partnership with the Woodland Trust and the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH). In 2023, American Forests will also expand Tree Equity Score to cover all urban areas across the United States, as well Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“Trees are more than scenery for our communities, they are critical infrastructure for people and our planet,” said Jad Daley, president and chief executive officer for American Forests. “The climate crisis is a global challenge, and we’re thrilled to partner with Woodland Trust and the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare to bring the Tree Equity Score to the United Kingdom.”
Launched by American Forests in 2021, the Tree Equity Score tool transformed the field of urban forestry in the U.S. and has helped communities address a dangerous reality: a map of tree cover in U.S. cities is almost always a map of income and race. This systemic lack of tree cover in low-income and neighborhoods of color has life-threatening implications in the face of extreme heat, rising air pollution, flooding and other threats fueled by climate change.
The Woodland Trust, the U.K.’s largest woodland conservation charity, and CSH, which focuses on sustainable healthcare research and practice, have partnered with American Forests to build the new tool, which will utilize a scientific approach to determine the tree canopy cover needed for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits that trees can provide.
“Trees have a huge part to play in creating better places for people to live, and at the Woodland Trust, we want all communities to have the access they need to the benefits of trees and woodland,” said Darren Moorcroft, chief executive officer of the Woodland Trust. “We are excited to be working with American Forests and a range of partners to bring this innovative project to the U.K.”
When people have access to trees where they live, income-related health inequalities are less marked. Studies show that access to nature and green space leads to positive outcomes for heart rates, blood pressure, stress, mood and self-esteem, obesity, children’s cognitive development and more. In England alone, the National Health Service (NHS) could save an estimated £2.1 billion every year in treatment costs if everyone had access to good quality green space.
“The Tree Equity Score provides the tools to visualize data that allow communities to understand their current tree canopy cover from the perspective of equity, and gives impetus to increase it,” said Rachel Stancliffe, CSH’s founder and director. “This fantastic tool can improve equality and health in so many ways, and we are delighted to partner in bringing that to the U.K. As CSH works with the NHS to realize the potential of the NHS green estate as a resilient healthcare asset, the Tree Equity Score will help us prioritize efforts where they are most needed.”
The expansion of American Forests’ Tree Equity Score to the U.K. is made possible by support from Salesforce, the world’s leading customer relationship management platform. Salesforce is also supporting the tool’s extension into Hawaii, Alaska and the territories. American Forests’ expansion of the Tree Equity Score to cover smaller urban communities across the U.S. is supported by Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest private forest landowners.
About the Tree Equity Score
In the U.S., the Tree Equity Score currently combines socioeconomic status, existing tree cover, population density and other information for 150,000 neighborhoods and 486 metropolitan areas to determine whether locations have enough trees to provide optimal health, economic and climate benefits.
Each score indicates whether there are enough trees in a neighborhood for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits that trees provide. Scores are based on tree canopy, surface temperature, income, employment, race, age and health factors. A 0-to-100-point system makes it easy to understand how a community fares.
Achieving Tree Equity across the U.S. requires planting 500 million trees, coast to coast, in metropolitan areas (places with 50,000+ people). Doing so would sustain 3.8 million jobs and annually absorb 9.3 million tons of carbon — the equivalent of taking 92 million cars off the roads. As the trees mature, they would mitigate 56,613 tons of particle pollution annually.
To learn more visit: www.treeequityscore.org.
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