Through our Community ReLeaf program, American Forests is responding to this challenge by leading the move for Tree Equity in cities across America. We partner with city leaders and community groups (22 cities and counting) to develop science-based urban forestry programs to grow and maintain tree canopy in neighborhoods that have fallen behind. We advocate for – and fund – urban forestry in innovative ways, launch high-impact planting projects, build public awareness, and lead national efforts to increase federal, state, and local funding for urban forestry projects.
Growing the Network
In addition to this place-based work, the Community ReLeaf program is helping foster a national movement by creating tools that everyone can use, like Vibrant Cities Lab, a free resource that curates the latest research, best practices and technical expertise in urban forestry. We are also leading public policy, in partnership with the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition, to assure continued federal investment in urban forests through programs like the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.
“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
BUILDING CAREER PATHS 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 Careers Are Closing the Gap
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 and underemployed communities of color. The result? A thriving workforce full of qualified and credentialed people who can now build and sustain economic strength and vibrant, green communities.
Nationwide, cities are in need of approximately 30,000 tree care industry workers, including: urban foresters, arborists, tree trimmers, pruners, pesticide applicators, and more. Plus, an additional 300,000 jobs in the landscape industry!
- $40,510: U.S. annual wage for entry-level tree trimmers/pruners
- $19.47: Median hourly wage for entry-level tree trimmers/pruners
- 25% of all Tree Trimmers and Pruners are self-employed
We’re tackling the barriers to Tree Equity at the national and local level, building community partnerships and galvanizing leaders around the critical need for increased tree canopy in America’s cities.
Helping cool the city and address the damaging effects of storms like Hurricane Irma through tree plantings in underserved communities,
urban tree canopy assessments, an online Canopy Planner tool so city leaders can model different scenarios, and a new Canopy Action Plan.
The Community ReLeaf program is powered with the help of other national partners, including the U.S. Forest Service and corporate partners like Bank of America who have helped provide funding and technical expertise for these partnerships.