How To Research Tree Coverage In Your District
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed last year included big increases in funding for biking and walking projects and it created other important programs that would make our cities and towns more liveable, but some of those programs were left unfunded. One such initiative is the Healthy Streets program which would help expand tree coverage to areas most affected by urban heat islands, a term used to describe the concentration of heat in metropolitan areas caused by excessive reflective surfaces and a lack of porous surfaces (e.g. concrete.)
Neighborhoods lacking tree coverage and experiencing the urban heat island effect are disproportionately low-income neighborhoods and communities that primarily consist of people from racial and ethnic minority groups. Since more trees in any area means more opportunities for people to enjoy the essential health, climate, and economic benefits trees provide, it is important to expand tree coverage to mitigate the urban heat island effect. If funded, the Healthy Streets program would provide communities with the resources for purchasing and planting trees, site preparation, ongoing maintenance, monitoring trees and repairing storm damage to trees, and other facets of expanding tree coverage.
Preparing to Lobby
Lobby Day at the 2022 National Bike Summit presents the chance to promote equitable climate provisions like the Healthy Streets program. Use our fact sheet and check out Treeequityscore.org to research disparities in tree coverage in your district in order to make the best case for the Healthy Streets program to your representatives! Treeequityscore.org is a research project, developed in Rhode Island as part of a United States Climate Alliance State Learning lab in partnership with American Forests, that uses various data points including: population density, income and employment, race and ethnicity, age, satellite data on tree cover, and surface temperature to create a tree equity score for each census block in the US. The tree equity score combines these data points to create a score that reflects the equitable distribution of trees in any area. The higher the score, the more equitable the tree distribution.
In addition, treeequityscore.org provides a customized assessment of the equitable distribution of trees in your district. To find customized district reports, go to https://www.treeequityscore.org, use the website map to search for your town and click on any area of the map that is inside your district. Once an area of the map is selected, to the right there will be a pop-up including a breakdown of the tree equity score and below that are links to district and state reports. The district report link takes you to a customized breakdown of the tree equity distribution in your district, along with graphs that depict ‘tree canopy vs percentage of people of color’ and ‘tree canopy vs percentage of people in poverty’. These graphs are especially useful in providing a succinct yet powerful representation of tree coverage disparities in your district which you can present to your representatives in your meetings. From the website, you can download the reports into a PDF for easy sharing. District-specific data can be difficult to come by, especially for something as niche as tree coverage, which makes these district reports a very valuable tool for advocacy.
Learn more about our “Asks” at the 2022 National Bike Summit by watching our webinar below.