Why is Tree Equity important?

Trees provide more than beauty or a comfortable place to relax. Much like schools, streets and sewer lines, trees are essential infrastructure. They are vital to the health, wealth and well-being of communities.

  • Trees across the U.S. absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants, preventing 670,000 cases of asthma and other acute respiratory symptoms annually.
  • In cities nationwide, trees prevent approximately 1,200 heat-related deaths and countless heat-related illnesses annually by lowering surface and air temperatures. The ability of trees to reduce peak temperatures is significant, given that a 10-fold increase in heat-related deaths is expected in the Eastern U.S. by 2050.
  • On average, trees in the U.S.reduce energy demand for heating and cooling by 7.2%.
  • Trees are a source of income—such as jobs related to tree maintenance and making products out of reclaimed wood. For every $1 million invested in forest restoration, approximately 39 forest-related jobs are created in rural U.S. areas alone.

The inequitable distribution of trees exacerbates social inequities. A map of tree cover is too often a map of income and race—especially in cities. That’s because trees often are sparse in low-income neighborhoods and some neighborhoods of color. In fact, policies from the early 1900’s are still shaping the way redlining contributes to periods of disinvestment, exacerbating tree inequity in these neighborhoods.

What’s the value of having a tree canopy goal?

A tree canopy goal will help you determine where there is a greater need to invest in planting trees, providing a baseline for comparing neighborhoods and estimating progress towards more equitable tree canopy cover.

I don’t see my community on the map. Why is that?

TESA is built for urban forests (specifically in Rhode Island, for now). It’s possible that your community does not fall into a US Census-defined urbanized area for which the Tree Equity Score is calculated. There are additional resources for communities that fall outside this description. Please visit the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Forest Environment to learn more: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/forestry/.

Where did you get all of the tool’s data from?

TESA uses readily available data from:

  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Rhode Island Geographic Information System
  • Rhode Island Department of Health
  • University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab

For more details about the data used in this site, please see our Data Sources page.

How often is the data you are using updated?

Some data will be updated annually (e.g. census data, surface temperature) or bi-annually (e.g. parcel data). Other data will be updated on a multi-year schedule (e.g. tree canopy) as resources become available.

Are there other resources you would recommend for improving the tree canopy of Rhode Island from a state or regional level?
What are the minimum requirements to produce a report in TESA?

You only need to select one area, like a block group or a parcel, in order to produce a report.

I’m looking for specific tree species recommendations for planting purposes. Does this tool offer them?

Yes! Once you click to produce a report, we provide a link to a resource that will help you identify tree species suitable for meeting your tree planting goals.

How do I get a Tree Equity Score for my city?

American Forests is working to secure funding to calculate scores for every urbanized area in the country and deliver it in a web-based tool. In addition to Rhode Island, we have funding to pilot the methodology in Maricopa County, AZ; the San Francisco Bay Area; Detroit, MI; Miami-Dade County, FL and Houston, TX. We are posting new results to this web map as they are finalized.

Funding to deliver this work nationwide will support leading-edge machine learning techniques to derive high-resolution tree canopy cover and a user-friendly application for all 486 urbanized areas in the U.S.

TESA goes a step further by exploring local conditions and supporting project level-decision making; therefore, it requires more engagement and additional resources.

For more information about how you can help make a national Tree Equity Score a reality, or to bring TESA to your community, please email us.