Boosting Boston’s Urban and Community Forestry with Federal Funding
Improving Tree Care and Accessibility
This funding will be used to enhance tree care and accessibility on Boston’s sidewalks. The City is taking proactive measures to maintain the existing tree canopy and explore innovative solutions, like using flexible and porous paving materials, to increase the tree canopy while ensuring accessible walking surfaces for individuals with visual and mobility impairments. Throughout the grant period, the City will regularly engage with accessibility advocates to provide updates and gather feedback for continuous improvement.
Supporting Workforce Development Opportunities
In 2022, the City introduced the Urban Forest Plan (UFP) and the Heat Resilience Solutions Plan to promote the growth of the urban forest and address the challenges of extreme heat caused by climate change. This funding will enable three strategies to foster inclusivity and expand access to trees and their benefits in historically marginalized communities. These strategies include making streets accessible and supporting the growth of urban street trees, providing workforce development opportunities for young people from environmental justice communities, and fostering community engagement through tree planting and care.
Expanding PowerCorps Boston
As part of the City’s commitment to equitable urban forest growth, PowerCorps Boston offers climate resilience and green industry training to young adults from environmental justice communities. This “earn and learn” program provides members with paid, hands-on training that prepares them for well-paying careers. With this grant, PowerCorps Boston will expand its operations to run two cohorts per year, with 50 participants in each. The funds will also increase stipends, program resources, incentives, and staffing capacity.
Expanding Boston’s Tree Alliance
The funding will also support the expansion of the Community Tree Alliance Program, which aims to grow and care for Boston’s urban forest on privately owned lands, particularly in under-canopied neighborhoods. Since its launch, the program has established a microforest at the Boston Nature Center, featuring over 90 trees, 200 shrubs, and perennial plants of various species. The federal funding will enable increased planting and maintenance, expanded public education and outreach, and strengthened program staff capacity.
Boston’s Urban Forest and Equitable Access
Boston’s urban forest is a vital part of the city’s identity, providing balance to the impacts of urbanization through green infrastructure. While the overall tree canopy coverage in Boston has remained stable at 27 percent, there is an inequitable distribution across neighborhoods. Environmental justice communities such as Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury have lower tree canopy coverage compared to other areas. Through the Inflation Reduction Act funding, the Forest Service aims to promote equitable access to trees and green spaces, benefiting historically disinvested communities.
Investing in Boston’s Urban Forestry
In 2022, Mayor Michelle Wu established the Urban Forestry Division within the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Since its inception, the division has made significant progress, including planting 1,226 new street trees, pruning 3,301 trees to enhance and preserve the existing canopy, and treating 1,165 mature ash trees to protect them from the Emerald Ash Borer. The division has also expanded its team and improved public access to urban forestry information.
With the $11.4 million grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Grant, Boston can advance its workforce development in urban and community forestry, improve tree care and accessibility, and expand the reach of programs like PowerCorps Boston and the Community Tree Alliance. This investment will enhance the livability of Boston’s neighborhoods, promote environmental justice, and create a more resilient and sustainable city.
Read More of this Story at www.boston.gov – 2023-10-06 18:17:47
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