Henry Lappen and Nonny Sagylyn Burack: Don’t forget about tree canopy in urban areas

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Our committee, the Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee, read Sen. Adam Hinds’s guest column on climate legislation on Feb. 7. We are thrilled that the Senate passed this bill.

We are concerned, however, that the bill does not mention urban trees. A healthy urban canopy is vital for a healthy population and for the fight against climate change. The column mentions including low-income neighborhoods in solar installations. We feel these areas would also benefit from efforts to increase the tree canopy in our towns and cities.

Unshaded urban streets can be as much as 15 degree hotter than tree lined ones. This can vary from block to block. Currently, many low-income blocks have fewer trees and thus higher summer temperatures.

Public shade trees provide as much benefit to humans as forest trees — cooling, carbon storage, air and water purification and beauty — but they have a greater effect in urban areas more removed from nature. We urge that public shade trees be considered in all future climate legislation.

Henry Lappen
Nonny Sagylyn Burack