Tree Fairness scores present the facility of knowledge for motion constructing

This text is sponsored by American Forests.

In 2007, environmentalist Invoice McKibben began the Step It Up marketing campaign, which organized rallies in cities and cities throughout the U.S. in help of lowering greenhouse fuel emissions by 80 p.c by 2050 and different objectives. A motion was off and operating, however the a number of, difficult-to-quantify objectives had the potential to carry it again. 

That December, NASA local weather scientist James Hansen mentioned that atmospheric CO2 should keep beneath 350 elements per million to forestall catastrophic modifications. McKibben and his group immediately saw the potential of this easy information level: an easy, science-based rallying cry that may translate simply across the globe. 

Their subsequent marketing campaign,, shortly grew into the chief of the worldwide local weather motion. The group has spurred and led protests and actions all over the world, together with the Worldwide Day of Local weather Motion in 2009, the primary Individuals’s Local weather March in 2014 and resistance to the Keystone Pipeline that prompted then-President Barack Obama to reject it.

The success of in mobilizing motion illustrates that whereas actions are pushed by values and imaginative and prescient, information is essential to their effectiveness. Information can help values, body an issue or principle of change or assist inform a narrative. 

Since’s founding, the democratization of knowledge has broadened how activists, nonprofits, firms and abnormal residents can leverage bigger information units for social change on any scale. 


One instance of this second-generation push is American Forests’ tree equity work, which goals to make sure that the neighborhoods that want timber probably the most have sufficient to expertise optimum well being, financial and local weather advantages. With few exceptions, socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods predominantly populated by folks of coloration have less tree cover than wealthier, whiter neighborhoods.

In 2021, American Forests launched a first-of-its-kind free public device, the Tree Equity Score (TES), which mixes information on socioeconomic standing, current tree cowl, inhabitants density and different data for 150,000 neighborhoods and 486 metropolitan areas to offer every census block group a rating to point the relative want for timber there. 


TES information makes discrepancies in tree fairness clear: Urbanized neighborhoods with principally folks of coloration have 33 p.c much less tree cover on common than majority white neighborhoods. And neighborhoods with 90 p.c or extra of their residents residing in poverty have 41 p.c much less tree cover than communities with solely 10 p.c or much less of the inhabitants in poverty. These disparities are particularly essential, as a result of folks of coloration residing in socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods are significantly weak to local weather change impacts. For example, they’ve higher asthma rates than different teams. And with fewer timber to soak up air pollution, they’re extra uncovered to smog — a harmful air pollutant that may make it tough to breath, triggering bronchial asthma assaults and spiking emergency room visits. This has develop into a extreme problem as local weather change-induced warmth waves are more and more frequent, and warmth intensifies smog.

Anybody can entry TES information by way of a easy easy-to-use platform from which they’ll obtain information or discover the information from inside a map. Advocates, organizations, firms and neighborhood members can use this device to make an evidence-based case for the place to plant timber to enhance tree fairness. Armed with this proof, they’ll mobilize and construct help for presidency and enterprise to put money into planting in these places. Consequently, municipalities large and small are utilizing TES to create extra equitable residing circumstances, showcasing how simply accessible information can catalyze an inclusive motion for change.


An instance of this dynamic is town of Phoenix, which in 2021 pledged to make use of TES to create tree fairness throughout town and elevated its funding for city forestry by $1.6 million. In one of many first actions of that effort, the Arizona Sustainability Alliance (AZSA) used the TES map to establish the lowest-TES census block teams in El Mirage, a city close to Phoenix, and located a tree-less elementary college there at which to do plantings. The group approached the varsity principal and municipal officers in regards to the effort and located a heat reception. With out the information to assist them select the place to plant and by their very own admission, AZSA would have merely requested, “Who do we all know in El Mirage?” to get began on the challenge. What they found in utilizing TES as a substitute is that individuals reply to goal information that helps to convey precedence and wish. 

Companies, for his or her half, depend on TES to establish the place the best must help city plantings exist and supply instructional outreach. For instance, Microsoft supported the El Mirage planting that was pushed by TES information, and Salesforce is helping town in assembly its different objective to extend tree cover in every of its 185 parks to 25 p.c. Financial institution of America is supporting the event of Tree Fairness Rating Analyzer in Phoenix, a deeper-dive device that may present extra particular data on neighborhoods and particular person parcels of land the place timber may be planted in an effort to obtain equitable tree cowl. 


TES helps gasoline a motion to inexperienced our cities and advance fairness on the identical time. TES information that anybody can entry helps cities and even people make the case for planting timber the place they’re most wanted. Doing so helps create a world through which everybody can expertise the well being, wealth and resiliency advantages timber present, no matter their race, revenue or location.

For extra details about Tree Fairness Rating and the way corporations, cities and nonprofits are utilizing information to make tree-planting selections, contact [email protected]

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