- To expand equitable access to urban trees and green space, 385 projects across the U.S. will receive a total of more than $1 billion from the U.S. Forest Service, according to a Thursday announcement.
- The grants come through the federal government’s only program focused on expanding urban forests. The Inflation Reduction Act bolstered its funding this year to more than 27 times its 2022 allocation.
- The grants support the Biden administration’s goal to halve the number of people without access to parks and nature by 2030, said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory in a statement.
A broad chorus — including scientists, government officials and community members — sings the praises of urban trees and green spaces. Trees improve residents’ mental and physical health, cool down neighborhoods, reduce flooding, pull planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and provide habitat for wildlife.
But trees and green space are not distributed evenly across neighborhoods; low-income areas typically have far less of the stuff.
The grant awardees announced Thursday, which include municipal governments and community-based organizations, were selected from a pool of 842 applicants requesting a total of $6.4 billion, according to the Forest Service. The large number of applicants to the program is “an indication of the urgent nationwide need to plant and maintain more urban trees,” it said in a news release.
Total urban and community forestry program grant allocations by state
Jad Daley, president and CEO of conservation nonprofit American Forests, said in a statement that “it’s a new era for urban forestry in America — one where cities and their partners will finally have equitable and robust access to the resources and technical assistance they need to plant trees and care for their existing tree canopy in ways that will remedy the systemic inequity of tree cover across our cities by income and race.”
American Forests received $50 million in a grant announced Thursday to support its Tree Equity Catalyst Fund, which will provide grants for early-stage, innovative urban and community forest projects and existing tree equity programs.