As we enter a new era of impact investing and witness a high demand for ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investments, there is an opportunity for entities, municipalities, and community leaders to develop innovative partnerships to provide sustainable and equitable returns for their communities. One of such programs is urban forest development.
On Wednesday, June 9, the Dallas City Council unanimously adopted the Dallas Urban Forest Master Plan. This plan provides 14 recommendations “to create a more resilient, well-managed, and sustainable urban forest.”
The city developed this plan in collaboration with the Texas Trees Foundation, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Oncor, and multiple City of Dallas departments.
The four goals of the master plan are:
Create a healthy, equitable, and resilient urban forest through proper planning and implementation of management strategies that maximize the benefits that Dallas’ trees provide.
Protect and grow tree canopy in Dallas to reduce temperatures, improve air quality, and address the most pressing challenges facing the city.
Achieve the Dallas Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan target of 37% tree canopy cover by 2040.
Actively engage with the community about the instrumental role they play in caring for and growing Dallas’ urban forest and making trees a priority.
According to the US Forest Service, “urban forests help to filter air and water, control stormwater, conserve energy, and provide animal habitat and shade.” Trees have far more practical use in our environment than just their impact on our air quality.
In a Wall Street Journal article discussing climate change and what cities can do to fight ‘heat islands’ in urban areas, the shade from trees is cited as having the ability to decrease air temperatures by as much as 45 degrees Fahrenheit. “Every city will have to think about increasing their tree cover,” said Karen Seto at Yale University, an urban geographer who is assessing urban climate change adaptation for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In 2020, the City of Dallas joined the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees Initiative and pledged to plant 31,000 trees, protect 14.7 million existing trees, and facilitate natural regenerations of 3.3 million trees in partnership with this initiative. The mission of the One Trillion Trees Initiative is to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees by 2030. The Dallas Urban Forest Master Plan will contribute to this global effort.
To learn more about how trees can make cities more livable, improve human health, reduce temperatures, improve air quality, and even reduce your electricity bill, check out the full report here.