Los Angeles (September 10, 2007)- Most people see Los Angeles as a concrete jungle, or a place where palm trees grow. But Los Angeles’ Million Trees Initiative could change both views. The project has enlisted the help of the Center for Urban Forestry Research, which used both satellite imagery and aerial photography to map a plan for planting one million trees – possibly shade trees, like oaks – in Los Angeles.
Said the center’s director, Greg McPherson, “We’re developing a tree planting scenario which will put a million trees throughout the city to fill up that space in a way that seems equitable based upon some target increases in tree canopy. And, then we’re going to project what the benefits of the million tree planting will be.”
Benefits may include improved air quality, decreased dependence on air conditioning, and reduced storm water runoff. And, as McPherson sees it, there’s just something good about having a tree nearby.
“We’re really depending on an environment that is in balance in order to survive. And we need to understand our connection to the natural world. So, I think trees in the city provide a way that we can do that right at home.”
“We may not realize it but actually we live in a forest,” said McPherson. “The urban forest is all of the vegetation in our communities. So, it’s kind of the sum aggregate of shrubs and trees… You can think of it as a habitat for people.”
The project’s studies and maps have shown a correlation between canopy cover and income level in Los Angeles. Low-income areas have significantly fewer trees than surrounding areas. The project has targeted these areas for tree planting, where there could be high potential for benefits.
“Low-income areas tend to have higher incidents of asthma and respiratory disease,” McPherson says. “Sometimes they’re located adjacent to freeways, areas where there are high concentrations of pollutants. So, adding a layer of green in those areas will help filter out the small particulates and some of the ozone and gaseous pollutants.”
For the full story, visit NPR’s Earth & Sky (Program #5091).
Los Angeles Million Trees
Center for Urban Forest Research