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Urban forest resources received

Goal of 50-percent tree canopy increase in disadvantaged communities

OW Staff Writer | 7/9/2020, midnight

The City of Los Angeles has recently received a bounty of resources to help complete the City’s tree inventory and Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP). With budget cuts looming for the coming fiscal year, these extra resources - including a $1.5 million CalFire grant, a visiting scholar, tree donations and repurposing of an existing contract - could not have come at a better time for LA’s urban forest. Together these new resources create a unique and remarkable opportunity to reshape LA’s urban forest in a time of severe financial stress.

The CalFire grant will provide funding to complete the street tree inventory, develop the UFMP, conduct community engagement and plant trees in disadvantaged communities.

“The money provided by CalFire’s Urban and Community Forestry Grant program supports the City of Los Angeles in accelerating progress toward our Green New Deal goals for canopy equity and optimized urban forest management,” said Rachel Malarich, LA City Forest Officer. “We are grateful for this support and look forward to utilizing our tree inventory data to work with City staff, industry experts, and stakeholders to develop a clear vision and roadmap toward a healthy and robust urban forest.”

“Data and information drive changes, which is why we are proud of our partnerships and will enable more tree plantings in densely populated communities where the need is greatest,” said Board of Public Works Commissioner Teresa Villegas.  

The city recently brought on board renowned expert on the intersection of public health, equity and green infrastructure, Vivek Shandas, as a visiting scholar through a grant secured by TreePeople in partnership with the LA Urban Center for Natural Resource Sustainability.

Shandas will support the work of the City Forest Officer by examining opportunities for tree canopy expansion in low-income, heat-impacted areas. He will make recommendations using GIS data and policy shifts to achieve the mayor’s Green New Deal goal of a 50-percent increase in tree canopy in disadvantaged communities by 2028.

While Shandas’ work will focus on the equity component of the tree canopy, an existing contract held by StreetsLA is being repurposed to provide additional capacity to move forward the City’s UFMP.

“StreetsLA is proud of being the caretaker of LA’s urban forest,” said Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of StreetsLA. “Through collaboration and partnership, we are expanding and protecting our urban forest, the lungs of our City, to provide shade, clean air and safe water.”

In addition, City Plants, as part of their Free Trees for Energy Efficiency Program with the Department of Water and Power, received two sizable tree donations from the University of Redlands and the LA County Fire Department. City Plants is working alongside other other key stakeholders, including the Department of Recreation and Parks, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, LA Parks Foundation, and Grown in LA, to explore how these donations of saplings can be distributed to Angelenos and woven into larger workforce development, climate resilience, biodiversity, and public education programs.

Two of the City’s non-profit partners, the Hollywood Beautification Team and Northeast Trees, also received grant funding to provide for tree planting, establishment and ongoing care of newly planted trees. These and other partners in the City Plants collaborative provide the necessary person-power to plant and water the trees, as well as much- needed workforce development for youth in disadvantaged areas.