HARC Releases Mitsubishi-Funded Report on Improving Tree Equity

HARC Announcement


HARC is pleased to announce the release of our report A Case for Cool Trees: Advancing Houston’s Tree Equity. Funded by the Mitsubishi Corporation, this report provides guidance on how to plan and conduct urban tree plantings equitably to reduce climate and health risks, and makes the evidence-based case for increasing tree canopy and improving tree equity in cities, especially for urban heat mitigation.

Tree Equity is a planning approach that prioritizes tree planting, reforestation, or urban greening projects in disadvantaged communities to equitably distribute tree canopy across a city, county, or region. Equitable tree planting or reforestation projects incorporate inclusive community-driven approaches to align planning, design, and implementation with the goals and vision of the community members. When thoughtfully co-developed with equity and justice aims, tree planting projects can improve community resilience.

The report also includes the results of several interviews carried out by HARC with tree planting and community organizations on their top takeaways to successfully implement equitable tree plantings. The four key takeaway themes are:

  • Consideration for extreme heat, low tree canopy, and disadvantaged communities
  • Funding for watering and maintenance
  • Community engagement and stewardship
  • Coordination and collaboration

Along with these takeaways, the report provides recommendations and useful Houston- and Texas-based resources to be used and replicated in similar urban settings.

Readers can also learn from a case study profiling the Houston neighborhood of Alief, one of Houston’s hottest neighborhoods, which was selected based on several criteria for being a strong candidate for future equitable tree plantings.

HARC encourages more organizations to apply this equitable tree planting approach so that the societal and environmental health benefits of increased urban tree canopy may be experienced by all Houstonians.

The Case of Cool Trees report was authored by the following HARC Researchers:

  • Ryan Bare, Senior Research Scientist and Nature Based Solutions Program Manager
  • Meredith Jennings, Senior Research Associate, Community and Climate Resilience
  • Kirsten Vernin, Senior Research Assistant, Watershed Quality
  • Stephanie Piper, Research Assistant, Climate and Equity
  • Qian Song, Senior Specialist, Geospatial Information Systems

To read the full report, click here.