Boston faces a range of environmental and health challenges and stressors. Trees will play an important part in responding to many of these issues. Trees provide a range of benefits both to residents and the broader environment. Shade on a hot summer day. Cleaning the air. Reducing flooding by capturing rain. The Urban Forest Plan will provide strategies that improve the health, longevity, and number of trees in the City.
We want to increase the many benefits trees provide. These include the cultural and social values provided by trees. These values are often not so easily measured, but are still critically important. Those more likely to live in neighborhoods with limited canopy, or canopy in poor or declining health, include:
- communities of color
- linguistically isolated groups
- socio-economically disadvantaged populations, and
- other historically excluded and socially vulnerable groups.
One goal of the plan is to develop strategies that create an equitable urban forest. Through this process, we will document and honor the views, needs, dreams, and desires of various residents and stakeholders.
Climate change will create challenges to the health and well-being of Boston’s residents and its trees. This is especially true in socially vulnerable communities. Summers will be hotter. Severe storms will happen more often. There will be more flooding. There will be new diseases and pests that will force both people and trees to adapt. Native trees will also be competing with new invasive species. There also may be new opportunities for trees that would never have survived in our region. The Urban Forest Plan will provide strategies to create a climate resilient urban forest. We hope to accommodate for climate changes and take advantage of those new tree opportunities.
A healthy forest will endure far into the future. This means it is critical to develop strategies with clearly defined goals that guide action in the long-run. An equitable urban forest also requires collective action and engagement by a broad and diverse group of stakeholders. In doing so, the Urban Forest Plan will provide the guidance Boston needs to:
- redress historic disparities
- foster equity, and
- create a healthy urban forest for Boston’s residents long into the future.