With rapidly rising sea levels and the highest urban heat island effect in the nation, climate change is no longer an abstract concept in a coastal city like Miami.

Of the more than six million people who call the region home, nearly one in five live in poverty, a segment identified by scientists as the population most vulnerable to a changing climate.

Local residents are ready for action, with surging interest in innovative green solutions.

Among the most ambitious of these green solutions is the Million Trees Miami initiative to plant one million trees throughout Miami-Dade County. American Forests has helped with this effort by strategically planting trees and providing an urban tree canopy analysis, funded by Bank of America, which focuses on urban heat island concerns in the densest, most diverse portion of Miami-Dade County. Government officials found the report results — a well-below-average 12.2 percent tree canopy — so compelling that they took action almost immediately to support a county-wide canopy assessment.

Miami Community ReLeaf: Liberty City plantingThis comprehensive study provides the scientific foundation necessary to focus restoration work in the areas where need and opportunity are greatest. American Forests has planted trees on the grounds of an elementary school, streets and vacant lots in Liberty City; along a newly developed recreational trail in an underserved neighborhood in Miami Gardens; and in an abandoned airport-turned-park in the nearby city of Hialeah.

While Florida still faces an uphill battle against the encroaching ocean, rising temperatures and social inequity, American Forests is working arm-in-arm with local partners to put in place a plan of action. In each Community ReLeaf project, we help stakeholders build partnerships, improve policies, secure long-term funding and generate ongoing investment in their urban forest. Miami-Dade is among the most proactive, responding with enthusiasm to make Miami a cooler, more livable and vibrant metro area.

American Forests is working to make urban areas like greater Miami greener and communities within them healthier.