TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — When you think of a city, trees may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but they are equally as important in an urban area as they are anywhere.
"Increasing tree canopy is one of the greatest tools we can use when we're talking about fighting climate change," said City of Tucson Urban Forestry Program Manager, Nicole Gillett.
In the desert, trees can help take the edge off some of the hottest summer days.
"They help with evaporation cooling. That's why it feels so much cooler under a Mesquite than almost any other spot in town. That pull of moisture, and cooling of air, acts as a giant AC unit for our entire city," said Gillett.
Just over a year ago, the City of Tucson launched its Urban Forestry Program and committed to planting one million trees by 2030.
"Trees are actually one of our only pieces of infrastructure that grows in value over time. There are all these benefits that we can calculate from them. They're a part of our urban infrastructure, but they're also part of our natural landscape," said Gillett.
Gillett discovered that some parts of town have been blessed with trees and others have not.
"Historic disinvestment, racism and various kinds of lending practices just led to certain communities being able to access resources in very different ways," said Gillett.
This map from the City of Tucson's website shows areas of town that need help. The areas in "orange" have some of the lowest tree counts, while the areas in "green" have some of the highest.
"This is the driver behind our entire effort. We are also using this as a prioritization tool. We're really focusing on getting trees into these lower canopy communities first," said Gillett.
The City of Tucson is organizing regular tree planting events and bringing people together to help the environment and our community.
"Planting trees is a great COVID-friendly activity. Planting trees with neighbors and friends is a great way to deal with the strain of COVID in this time. It's also making a big impact on our planting goals," said Gillett.
To learn how to help with the City of Tucson's Million Trees Initiative, click visit tucsoncleanandbeautiful.org.
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