US cities are spending millions on trees to fight heat – but are their plans equitable?

HARC in the News


By Valerie Yurk, The Guardian

As US cities cope with rising temperatures, some are investing in planting and maintaining trees – but experts warn the coverage might benefit wealthy neighborhoods more.

After 10am, it’s too hot for Hajar Logan to work upstairs, so she moves her home office to the basement. By 11am, she can’t leave her house until the sun sets. The heat is too “suffocating”, she says, in her mostly tree-less neighborhood of Dorchester in Boston.

Logan is diabetic, so she’s prone to dehydration. The heat makes it harder for her body to cool off, retain water and manage insulin. She doesn’t have air conditioning because it would be too expensive to cool her entire home. She uses fans instead.


When it gets hot through July and August, there are weeks where I can’t do anything, I can’t think,” she said. “The only way to survive is to stay in the basement.”

During the day, her kids are shut in too. Dorchester – a majority-black area where roughly half of the population makes under $50,000 a year – lacks shaded green spaces within walking distance for them to play.


Houston sent 75 community scientists out to track and map heat islands across a 300 sq mile radius, which the city will then overlay with tree canopy records to inform their planting goal of 4.6m trees by 2030.

Valerie Yurk, The Guardian