One of the nation’s hottest cities, Phoenix broke the record for most recorded high-heat days, with more than 143 days above 100 degrees in 2020. Such high temperatures are dangerous to everyone. But the negative impact is not felt equally. Neighborhoods without enough trees — which are frequently low-income or communities of color — face a particular threat from high heat.

American Forests, the City of Phoenix and the Arizona Sustainability Alliance are co-leading a coalition of partners to address extreme heat by advancing Tree Equity throughout Maricopa County, home to Phoenix. In April 2021, Phoenix was the first city to officially commit to creating Tree Equity by 2030. Our goal is to preserve and grow urban forests in the most heat-vulnerable neighborhoods by creating “Cool Corridors” for walking and well-canopied city parks that enhance recreational opportunities and mitigate heat islands.

Extreme heat is a problem for most metropolitan areas in the United States. If we can figure out the best way to plant and care for trees in desert conditions amid a changing climate, we can create a viable model for other hot cities. That’s why we are supporting actions in Phoenix such as the development of a Citizen Forester and Homeowner Association outreach program to increase awareness and support for bringing the benefits of trees to neighborhoods that need them the most.