Urban Tree Canopy is a Matter of Life and Death

Trees are natural air conditioning, air filters and sponges for carbon, and yet many neighborhoods severely lack trees and the life-saving health benefits they provide. The consequences are only becoming more dire: the U.S. currently experiences about 12,000 heat-related deaths each year, with that number expected to reach over 100,000 per year this century. American Forests developed Tree Equity Score as a one-of-a-kind, human-centered resource to drive local decision-making and implementation for expanding urban tree canopy. Our experts understand the human impacts of extreme heat, and we’re working to affect change through federal policymaking and on-the-ground work in communities nationwide.

Tackling Extreme Heat Through Congressional Action and Investments in Tree Equity
Achieving Tree Equity in underserved areas will literally save lives, and improve the wellbeing of local communities. American Forests has built partnerships with cities, organizations, and federal agencies to utilize REPLANT Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act funds to implement science-smart Tree Equity policies that ensure there are enough trees in every part of every city, creating tens of thousands of jobs in the process.

Contact media@americanforests.org to inquire about specific landscapes or subject areas, and we’ll match you with the appropriate expert.

Benita Hussain
Chief Program Officer, Tree Equity

Areas of expertise: Tree Equity Catalyst Fund, urban and community forestry, climate equity

Chris David
Vice President, GIS and Data Science

Areas of expertise: Tree Equity Score, Tree Equity Score Analyzer, data science, geographic information systems (GIS)

Joel Pannell
Vice President, Urban Forests Policy

Areas of expertise: federal policy, urban and community forestry, Tree Equity, climate equity

Jad Daley
President and Chief Executive Officer

Areas of expertise: federal policy, Tree Equity Score, climate change, carbon

Larry Wiseman
Senior Advisor, Urban Forestry

Areas of expertise: local urban forest policies (tree ordinances and zoning), tree removal and protection requirements, case studies

Lida Aljabar
Senior Director, Catalyst Initiative

Areas of expertise: Tree Equity Catalyst Fund, urban and community forestry, climate equity

With temperatures, air particulate and carbon dioxide levels rising, our cities urgently need expanded tree canopy. Trees provide life-saving shade at bus stops and sidewalks near schools. Trees near homes provide billions of dollars of reduced energy costs each year, which means the absence of tree canopy adversely impacts people and neighborhoods least able to withstand it. 

A majority of the country — more than 80% — lives in urbanized areas. Due to historic discriminatory policies, trees are often sparse in neighborhoods with more low-income families and people of color. American Forests is working to bring the benefits of trees to all neighborhoods so that everyone can experience the critical health benefits that trees bring, regardless of zip code, income level or race.