Private Trees, Public Benefit – WUF to Discuss Urban Canopy July 21

Trees in Los Angeles are under threat – some neighborhoods have seen their tree canopies shrink by 15 to 44 percent since the turn of the century, according to a 2017 USC study. Drought, disease, construction, and sidewalk repairs are amongst the culprits that have been chipping away at our public resource. As with any major city, urban forestry in Los Angeles is vital for the health and wellbeing of our communities. The preservation and expansion of the tree canopy is a key strategy to mitigate the impacts of urban growth and climate change.

However, the urban forest also lays bare two of LA’s most pressing societal challenges: entrenched inequality and the limits of government influence. A recent study by the LMU Center for Urban Resilience (CURes) showed that Los Angeles County has a robust urban forest, but the region’s trees are not evenly distributed among communities, reflecting decades of public disinvestment in communities of color and contributing to great variations in the social, environmental and health benefits to residents. Throughout the country, studies have observed that formerly redlined neighborhoods are the ones that experience the greatest urban heat island effect, driven by sparse tree canopy and an abundance of heat trapping surfaces.

While local government has an important role to play in the preservation and maintenance of trees on our streets and public lands, these only account for a fraction of our urban trees. Addressing inequities and bolstering the tree canopy will necessarily require the participation of private land owners as well as local jurisdictions. How might we encourage, incentivize, and celebrate private sector examples of bolstering our tree canopy, especially on the Westside where there is so much low-rise residential? And how do we ensure this happens in low-wealth neighborhoods?

Wednesday, July 21st: 12-1pm on Zoom

Scott Baker, President, RELM
Eric Strauss, President’s Professor of Biology & Executive Director, LMU Center for Urban Resilience
Milan Ratkovich, Development Manager, The Ratkovich Company
Wister Dorta, Project, Operations & Urban Forest Management, City of Santa Monica

Moderator – Jerome Chou, Planning Director, Kounkuey Design Initiative

WUF Members Free
Nonmembers $35
Student Nonmembers $10

Registration closes for this Zoom panel on May 18 at 9:00 pm.

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