Detroit Evening Report: New tool aims to improve ‘Tree Equity’ in Detroit neighborhoods

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Community volunteers celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees in Detroit's Stewart Park.

Community volunteers celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees in Detroit's Stewart Park.

A new tool from the conservation nonprofit American Forests aims to show Detroiters of all economic backgrounds how increasing their neighborhood’s tree canopy can improve their health and well-being.

The free, web-based Tree Equity Score Analyzer estimates Detroit would need more than a million trees to reach “tree equity,” or the equal distribution of trees to access the health benefits they provide. Scores are based on a variety of factors, including tree canopy, surface temperature, income, employment, race, age, language and health factors.

“There are some neighborhoods in the city of Detroit that have a heat disparity of 18 or 19 degrees higher than average, in those areas that have less tree coverage,” said Jesiqua Hutchinson, manager of urban forestry in Detroit for American Forests.

In addition to providing shade, trees can help reduce stormwater and remove carbon monoxide from the air, improving air quality and the livability of a community, Hutchinson said.

“Detroit has some of the most polluted zip codes in the country. Southeastern Michigan has a 40% higher asthma rate than what you see statewide and nationwide. Trees have a big impact on that,” she said, adding that the most impacted areas have the least number of trees.

“[With the tool,] you can view individual parcels and utilize the data that we’ve provided, as well as some additional, locally identified filters and datasets to build reports, and really see what the exact impact will look like from the trees that you want to plant,” she said.

Last year, American Forests joined the City of Detroit, The Greening of Detroit and several other community organizations in planting 11,000 trees toward a five-year goal of planting 75,000 trees in Detroit. The organization expects the partnership to create employment for over 300 Detroit residents in tree care and maintenance jobs and invest $30 million in Detroit neighborhoods throughout the five-year pilot phase of the project.

Other headlines for Monday, Dec. 18, 2023:

  • Legendary Detroit musician and producer Joseph “Amp” Fiddler died on Sunday at the age of 65.
  • The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan is considering taking over the QLINE.
  • Two nurses were fired from the William Dickerson Detention Facility in Hamtramck after raising concerns about alarming issues at the facility, CBS Detroit reports.  
  • Fencing will be going up today to prepare for the construction of the new Chandler Park Fieldhouse.  

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  • Nargis Rahman
    Nargis Hakim Rahman is the Civic Reporter at 101.9 WDET. Rahman graduated from Wayne State University, where she was a part of the Journalism Institute of Media Diversity.