Tree Equity™

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Planting Tree Equity and Career
Pathways for Underserved Communities

Across American cities, there are dramatic disparities in tree canopy that track on economic lines. Put simply, in most cities trees grow on money and influence, which means that low-income neighborhoods can have a fraction of the tree canopy found in more affluent areas. As shown in research synthesized on Vibrant Cities Lab, this lack of tree canopy can impact academic performance, crime rates, personal health and even increased illness and death from extreme heat and poor air quality.

American Forests is building awareness and taking action on this pressing issue, calling attention to this nature deficit in underserved communities and using trees to address systemic socioeconomic issues. Together with other national partners, we are demanding greater investment from city budgets and federal funding to the private sector, to fix the problem.

Workforce Crisis in Urban Forestry

As we endeavor to restore access to healthy canopy coverage in underserved communities, we recognize that a skilled workforce is fundamental to helping care for these trees. Communities with the highest tree canopy needs tend to be those that have the highest unemployment. Tree care companies and agencies are desperate to fill a labor shortage, yet they struggle to engage and retain those living in low-canopy areas, who tend to be low income people of color.

Tree Equity™: Career Pathways seeks to close that gap.

Tree care careers cannot be outsourced, and we are in need of approximately 30,000 workers nationwide, including:

  • Urban foresters
  • Arborists
  • Tree trimmers
  • Pruners
  • Pesticide applicators
  • And more, not including an additional 300,000 jobs in the landscape industry!

Tree Equity™ connects people to green careers and bridges gaps between and the public and private employers who have openings but don’t know where to find qualified workers. In turn, this creates opportunity for overlooked populations like unemployed/underemployed communities of color. The result? A thriving workforce full of qualified and credentialed people that can now build and sustain economic strength and vibrant, green communities.

Facts about the field according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • $38,580: U.S. annual wage for entry-level tree trimmers/pruners
  • $17.53: Median hourly wage for entry-level tree trimmers/pruners
  • 25% of all Tree Trimmers and Pruners are self-employed

Creating tree equity

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“Without the vital input and empowerment of community members, planting and maintenance campaigns cannot be successful, and Tree Equity cannot be achieved.” – Sarah Lillie Anderson, American Forests

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Our Tree Equity Experts

Sarah Lillie Anderson, Senior Manager, Tree Equity Programs

Phone: 202.370.1981
Email Sarah

Ian Leahy, Vice President of Urban Forestry

Phone: 202.370.4524
Email Ian

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