With urban forests declining, critical ecosystems that are vital to creating healthy and livable communities are being lost, making assessments and the development of restoration strategies for urban forests imperative.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) May 01, 2013
National conservation organization American Forests announced today that it has received a $250,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to conduct urban forest assessments in five U.S. cities over the next six months. The selected cities are Asbury Park, N.J.; Atlanta, Ga.; Detroit, Mich.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Pasadena, Calif.
It is estimated that urban trees in the lower 48 states remove approximately 784,000 tons of air pollution annually, with a value of $3.8 billion. Our nation is losing urban forest canopy at a rate of around four million trees a year. With urban forests declining, critical ecosystems that are vital to creating healthy and livable communities are being lost, making assessments and the development of restoration strategies for urban forests imperative.
“We have a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, which helps us better support our customers, clients and the communities where we do business,” says Cathy Bessant, Bank of America’s Global Technology & Operations executive and chair of the company’s Environmental Council. “Our partnership with American Forests will help community leaders understand and respond to impacts occurring to the biological infrastructure on which our cities depend.”
The urban forest assessments are a key part of the new program that American Forests is launching this year called “Community ReLeaf.” The assessments will give insight into the overall state of each city’s urban forest and the environmental services each provide, such as energy savings and carbon storage, as well as water and air quality benefits.
These assessments will create a credible research foundation for urban forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying the benefits that each city’s trees provide. In turn, the research will help encourage green infrastructure, inform public opinion and public policy regarding urban forests and allow city officials to make informed decisions on the most cost-effective solutions to improving the health, safety and well-being of the city’s residents.
The assessments will also help inform strategic tree planting and restoration activities to be conducted by American Forests, Bank of America Community Volunteers and local partners to enhance the benefits and lead to more sustainable communities this fall.
Each project will be slightly different and tailored to the needs of the local community and urban forest. For example, in Asbury Park, N.J., a city that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the project will help to assess how the urban forest canopy has changed due to the natural disaster and to prioritize and inform future urban restoration to best benefit the local community.
In Atlanta, the project will assess the urban forest around schools to quantify public health and additional benefits that the students receive from the trees planted nearby. The results will provide a baseline to help further efforts to create healthier school environments for youth around the city. With changing climates, it is especially important to better understand the important role our urban forests play in areas where our children spend such a large amount of their time.
“As annual temperatures continue to rise and storms and droughts continue to intensify, the health of urban forests is increasingly compromised,” says Scott Steen, American Forests CEO. “We are delighted to be partnering with Bank of America to help these cities build more resilient urban forests. Bank of America's commitment and investment will make a real difference for these communities."
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About American Forests
American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many of the most important milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. Since 1990, American Forests has planted more than 44 million trees in forests throughout the U.S. and in 39 countries, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at http://www.americanforests.org.