Diving letter:

  • The city council of Dallas this week unanimously passed the city’s first urban forest master plan with 14 recommendations for a unified approach to building a resilient and fair urban forest. These include ensuring that city regulations support canopy conservation and growth, maximizing investment in urban forest programs and management, and creating a plan for responding and restoring city storms. Improved air quality and reduced temperatures are among the most sought-after benefits.
  • The plan, drawn up by the nonprofit Texas Trees Foundation, states that Dallas is already the ninth largest city in the country and is ready for further development. This development threatens to remove the canopy from the southern neighborhoods of Dallas, which could lead to new heat island effects affecting significant numbers of economically and medically vulnerable residents, the authors wrote.
  • A major impetus for this plan was an earlier study on the Foundation’s Heat Island Management that found that Dallas Dallas is heating up faster than any other US city except Phoenix, said Rachel McGregor, urban forestry manager at the Texas Trees Foundation. The report cites data suggesting that Dallas could have 30 to 60 additional days above 100 degrees F per year by 2050.

Dive Insight:

As cities in the US report experiencing longer journeys with higher temperatures, they are considering how larger urban tree resources could mitigate the heat.

Los Angeles, for example, created a municipal forest official position in 2019 with a Southern California urban forestry expert who is specifically focused on managing the city’s urban forest.

On the opposite coast, in New York City, a group called by The Nature Conservancy called the NYC Urban Forest Task Force published an NYC Urban Forest Agenda with a stated goal of reaching 30% of the canopy by 2035. The agenda provides for basic steps such as the creation of a master plan for the urban forest and the promotion of careers in the urban forest, as well as management strategies such as strengthening tree regulation, setting up incentive programs and setting up projects to reuse wood waste.

The Dallas Master Plan follows the state of urban forest assessments in 2015 and 2019 and the Dallas publication‘Comprehensive environmental and Climate action plan in 2020, which aims to increase the city’s treetops to 37% by 2040. Given the 14.7 million existing trees in Dallas, that number is currently around 32%, which the report says is “relatively high for a city” of its size City leads some of its residents to completely withhold the most important benefits of these trees. “

The urban forest master plan is drawing up Dallas for you soon conduct a stand analysis that assesses characteristics such as age and tree species while also outlining the need for an urban forest management plan.

Dallas is experiencing an increasing number of days of high heat, defined as days above 100 degrees F. The number of days that exceeded this threshold increased 58% between 1960 and 2019, with 2011 being a high figure when the city experienced 71 heat days. About 40% of Dallas is covered by impermeable surfaces and non-leafy areas such as streets and buildings that create a heat island effect. These factors make the city more prone to heat-related illness and mortality, as well as foggy skies, the report said.

Citing results from a 2017 study it conducted on heat island management, the Texas Trees Foundation said that preserving and planting trees is the most effective strategy for lowering temperatures in Dallas, with trees lowering temperatures in some Areas of Dallas are said to lower by as much as 15 ° F.

The plan points to already proven benefits of urban forests: higher standardized test scores in middle schools, fewer violent crime, improved mental health, and even shorter hospital stays for patients facing trees. Parts of the plan also appeal to residents’ purses: the authors say adjacent forests can add property value, and trees strategically planted around homes can cut energy bills by as much as $ 250 a year for the average household .

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