PLANT TREES and COOL CITIES | The Future We Want
PLANT TREES and COOL CITIES
Trees for Trenton
My idea is not original, it’s not high tech, it’s not sexy. But I strongly believe that it’s an incredibly easy and powerful solution: plant trees in cities. Planting trees in urban areas is a low cost, low-tech solution to many environmental problems that face our cities. By the year 2050, 70% of the earth’s population will live in cities. Some would say that this is a bad thing. However, if the population of our Earth keeps growing, we want to keep people in cities because we need to stop developing the natural land. And trees make cities beautiful. Studies have shown all of the following: Planting trees in urban areas reduces energy use and costs by 20-50%. Trees reduce the urban heat island effect. A single tree can absorb up to 8 pounds of air pollution every year, thus lowering risk for asthma in young children and the elderly. Think about what a million trees in a city could do. Trees reduce crime rates and increase property values. Trees have a positive impact on neighborhoods – less litter, more social cohesion, psychological benefits. Studies have shown that people drive slower on city streets that have trees, recuperate faster from surgery when they are looking at trees. The list is incredible and goes ON! Please watch the first five mins of the Vimeo film I have included on tree planting in cities. I promise if you watch the first five minutes, you will keep watching!
How will it improve our quality of life?
Trees reduce energy use in cities by 20-50%. Trees reduce air pollution and the health risks associated with air pollution and particulate matter (namely asthma). Trees reduce the urban heat island effect. Streets with trees are, on average, 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than streets without trees. Trees lower crime rates and increase property values. Trees offer psychological benefits, people respond to the green. Neighborhoods with trees have less litter and more social cohesion. Trees make our cities beautiful.
Triple Bottom Line Benefits
Poor people are those most likely to benefit from planting trees in city by reducing their energy use and therefore their costs. Planting trees in urban centers could offer jobs for a lot of people, planting the trees, taking care of them. Trees are low cost, low-tech and sustainable!!
The state of New Jersey has implemented a way to pay for a program called the Cool Cities Initiative. A societal benefits tax is added onto all utility bills. That money is pooled and used to pay for all the trees planted in NJ by the Cool Cities program.
Issues, Barriers and Opportunities?
Sometimes the Cool Cities program ran into problems with people who did not want a tree in front of their house because they could not see the benefit of having it. They believed it would ruin their pipes. The film attached below was made to educate people on the incredible benefits of this program.
Some cities can barely manage the trees they have. It takes a well coordinated effort to manage urban forestry.