Trees are a critical strategy for climate resilience on multiple fronts, from storing and sequestering carbon, to reducing stormwater and flooding, to providing energy-saving – even life-saving – shade.
Extreme heat kills more people each year in the United States than flooding, storms, and sea-level rise combined. Many more are sent to hospitals with heat-related illnesses. Cities across the nation are stepping up efforts to protect their most vulnerable residents by mapping and furthering their understanding of their Urban Heat Islands – areas that are hotter than their surroundings due to an abundance of impervious surfaces like concrete and asphalt that absorb and radiate heat. Increasing urban forest canopy has continuously proven to be one of the most effective ways to ameliorate the Urban Heat Island Effect by moderating both ambient air and land temperatures, reducing air conditioning needs by up to 30%. Continued warming, driven by climate change, presents one of the foremost challenges to urban planners, public health officials, and communities.