American Forests Featured on the America Adapts Podcast
In August 2019, American Forests sat down with America Adapts, a podcast that seeks to find adaptation leaders and share the progress in society and the environment. We talk about our role in the climate conversation, how we can improve workforce development in urban forestry, and new initiatives like Tree Equity.
We shared our collaborative efforts to streamline all the urban forestry resources on one website called Vibrant Cities Lab. We got together with the US Forest Service and National Association Regional Councils to create this online hub. We wanted it to be a one-stop curated shop for the urban forestry field. So even if you don’t think about trees every day, there is a place to take our field expertise and help you make a case for active city tree management.
Being the first conservation organization founded in 1875, we like to say we are not just old, but we also have learned a few things along the way. We were excited to focus this conversation on urban forestry on the podcast because this has been a part of our vision from the very beginning of our organization.
“What we wanted to do was address specific needs, like improving test scores, reducing respiratory illness, and reducing crime rates. You don’t realize how much urban tree cover is actually contributing to those factors,” Ian Leahy, vice president of Urban Forestry at American Forests said. “We are working in 22 cities nationwide. Detroit is one of our primary partners and there we continue to facilitate those partnerships in their city agencies and local nonprofits.”
Working with urban forestry leaders across the country, we are raising the awareness that city canopies can play a central role in protecting people from climate change, extreme heat and air pollution.
“Climate change today contributes to the extreme heat risk in cities across America and kills more people every year than all other kinds of extreme weather combined,” Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests on the podcast. “The amazing power of trees to cool our city is a critical opportunity.”
How do we do a better job of caring for city trees and now there is more public investment, we are going to need to scale up the field of urban forestry to be a powerful climate change solution. This solution is also guiding the interest in how we plant more urban forests and who will help plant them.
Our Tree Equity program makes the call for increasing tree canopy cover in communities that need it most. In some places, green space was actually used as a tool to further discrimination, and in some cases, by law. From these practices, you can visibly see fewer trees in communities that have a high proportion of renters, low-income population, and in communities of color. We know that properly maintained urban canopies provide health, wealth, water and air benefits. Moreover, when they are distributed to everyone, all communities can be healthy and resilient.
Right now, there is a massive shortage of urban forestry practitioners in the field. About 83% of Americans live in urban areas and need about 30,000 people in the field over the next five years to scale up equitable and climate solution.
“There is a massive opportunity not just for ensuring that lower-income communities of color can receive the benefits of trees, but also making sure those benefits are sustainable and can be reinvested in their communities,” Sarah Anderson, senior manager of the Tree Equity program for American Forests.
We thank host Doug Parsons for providing the platform for us to share our ideas on urban forestry and climate adaptation. Please click the link, or their website here, and learn more about; a Cool Neighborhoods program, extreme heat in urban areas, public health and urban forests, social and ecological resilience, tree equity and social resilience and much, much more!
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