Boston (May 21, 2007)- Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced the City’s new urban forestry initiative during a special ceremony at a Boston’s Urban Forest Coalition (BUFC) Arbor Day Celebration. BUFC, a coalition of non-profit, city, state, and federal organizations working to improve Boston’s urban forest ecosystem, planted 100 trees in Dorchester as part of the statewide 2007 Massachusetts Arbor Day Celebration.
Mayor Menino announced that the City of Boston aims to plant 100,000 new trees by the year 2020, increasing its urban forest canopy cover by 20%. The initiative, called “Grow Boston Greener,” is a unique partnership between the public and private sectors. The City will join with the U.S. Forest Service and BUFC to implement the ambitious program.
“This innovative partnership is not simply about beautifying Boston and cleaning our environment,” said Mayor Menino. “It’s also about civic engagement and strengthening neighborhood roots. This is an investment in our neighborhoods that can really bring people of the community together.”
“Trees are so important,” the Mayor continued. “They clean the air and they’re good for preventing run-off from rain storms. They also have a cooling effect on the neighborhoods around them. Even esthetically, trees help communities by making people feel better about where they live.”
The tree planting event in Boston was part of a 13-city statewide Massachusetts Arbor Day Celebration coordinated by Eagle Eye Institute and the Massachusetts YouthBuild Coalition. More than 200 trees were planted across the Commonwealth. The event taught valuable urban forestry skills to local urban youth, and it encouraged them to take action to combat global warming in their communities.
“A healthy environment, including trees, provides benefits beyond just the physical ones,” said BUFC Chair Sherri Brokopp. “Healthier neighborhoods mean healthier people, and healthier people create better communities.”
The Mayor’s Chief of Environmental and Energy Services, Jim Hunt, has been working with Antonia Pollak, Boston Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner, and BUFC to inventory all street trees in Boston. The assessment, completed last summer, showed Boston’s current canopy cover is at approximately 29%. This number includes all trees, such as trees in parks, private yards and along streets. Compared to other cities like Baltimore (20%) and New York City (25%), Boston is on its way to setting the standard for urban green space.
“We want to be greener than most,” said Mayor Menino. Hunt added half-jokingly that the new tree planting efforts would turn “‘Beantown’ into ‘Greentown!'”
The Massachusetts Arbor Day Celebration was aimed at providing hands-on experience for youth from underserved urban neighborhoods while helping them to take action to improve their community’s health. The effort was funded in part by a grant from the DCR as part of Eagle Eye’s 9-month Green Industries Career Pathway (GICP) program.
Eagle Eye Institute develops replicable hands-on learning, stewardship and career program models, serving urban youth of color, which build environmental awareness, skills and responsibility. Programs are designed to build meaningful connections between the natural resource community and communities of color through active ongoing partnerships and shared experience in the field working together. Eagle Eye Institute is currently focused on refining the GICP program, now being implemented through a partnership with YouthBuild USA and The Trustees of Reservations. The GICP program model increases awareness and knowledge about the environment and the value of urban and community forestry through learning, stewardship and career-bridging programs.
The Massachusetts YouthBuild Coalition seeks to provide a forum for the leadership of local YouthBuild programs to share and develop best practices in the provision of youth development services. YouthBuild programs engage unemployed young men and women, most of whom have not completed high school and all of whom come from low-income families, helping them to obtain education, job skills and vocational and technical assistance and training. By collaborating, building alliances, leveraging partnerships and grant writing, the Massachusetts YouthBuild Coalition shares its comprehensive youth development expertise and generates support for its 11 local YouthBuild programs. YouthBuild enables these young adults to serve their communities by building affordable housing, and assists them in transforming their own lives and roles in society.
This year’s statewide celebration followed the success of a similar Arbor Day event held in Boston in 2006. At that event, Boston’s Urban Forest Coalition worked with Eagle Eye Institute, YouthBuild Boston and other organizations to plant 100 trees in Dorchester, Mission Hill, East Boston, Mattapan and Roslindale.
Formed in March, 2005, Boston’s Urban Forest Coalition includes the U.S. Forest Service; Boston Parks and Recreation Department; Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation; EarthWorks; Mass GIS; Mapping Sustainability; DotWell; Franklin Park Coalition; Boston Department of Neighborhood Development; Urban Ecology Institute; Boston Natural Areas Network; and Urban Natural Resources Institute.
Boston Urban Forest Coalition
Eagle Eye Institute