Adapting to Change
Since 2016, American Forests has worked with the City of Houston and other regional partners to plan an unprecedented expansion of the city’s tree canopy, creating a cooler, more resilient and more equitable Houston.
As one of the fastest growing cities the country, large areas of Greater Houston’s historic tree canopy and other greenspace that would naturally absorb heavy rainfall and cool the city have been replaced by a 25 percent increase in concrete, asphalt and other impervious surfaces. As the Houston area continues to grow and flooding increases, its tree canopy becomes even more necessary and valuable.
A recent analysis of Houston’s urban forest led by the US Forest Service found that the urban forest in Houston provides important benefits to the community. However, the trees and communities in Houston and surrounding areas are also vulnerable to the impacts of extreme storms. The tragic impact of Hurricane Harvey has demonstrated the urgency of trees and other green infrastructure for Houston’s future, while adding new challenges due to widespread loss of the city’s trees during the storm.
With support from Bank of America, American Forests, the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities gathered public input and developed an urban forest strategic plan for greater Houston. This includes a data-interface tool to help Houston and surrounding communities plan plantings in strategic places based on social and environmental data.
American Forests is now working with partners to replace trees lost by the storm and to plan for the future of the area’s tree canopy.