Tree Care + Equity
TREE CARE PLAYS A ROLE IN TREES’ AFFORDABILITY
As a Friends of Trees supporter and a friend of trees yourself, you’re probably attuned to the benefits of trees environmentally, socially, mentally, and more. However, less people are aware of how tree canopy is distributed among a city and its neighborhoods.
A trend across the country in large cities is that trees, and the benefits they bring, are distributed inequitably across neighborhoods based on race and income.
Higher income neighborhoods with majority white residents have over 75% tree canopy coverage as compared to lower-income neighborhoods with around 15-30% canopy cover.
These are large discrepancies that result in hotter environments, more air pollution, and factors contributing to respiratory conditions like asthma for children.
These trends are reality here in Portland: west Portland (excluding Forest Park) has about 75% canopy cover in most neighborhoods, while east Portland neighborhoods average about 15-30% canopy cover. Friends of Trees prioritizes planting street and yard trees in neighborhoods on the eastside of Portland to help decrease this disparity.
However, many people are wary about – if not outright opposed to – getting a tree of their own because of the costs of tree care, which can increase as a tree grows. This is just one of the reasons Friends of Trees provides tree care along with tree planting, including proper pruning of young trees at no cost to the property owner (read more about pruning trees in the next story). And we’re exploring ways to increase the availability of low to no cost tree care for folks who need it, because we know the benefits of trees far outweigh the costs.
Photo: Street tree planting in east Portland, January 2020.