Our Urban World: ACTrees’ Nationwide Quest for a Healthier Future

Almost 80% of people in the United States live in cities and metropolitan areas. Our air and water systems, our wildlife, and our bodies depend upon the benefits that urban trees and plants provide. Cities across the U.S. and around the world have begun to create and maintain urban green spaces – New York City, for example, is famous for their dedication to preserving a natural, lush park in the heart of the city.

Air in urban areas becomes artificially warm due to excessive concentrations of paved surface, reflective surface, and population. This "heat island effect" can generate temperatures 2 to 10 degrees higher than more rural areas. Among other benefits, large parks like Central Park help to moderate artificially high temperatures from the "urban heat island" effect through shading and evapotranspiration.

Under NYC's Central Park canopy, temperatures can run about
13 degrees cooler than the rest of the city's air
One activist, through the power of Photoshop, asks us to imagine a New York in which all of the trees and leafy plants in Central Park suddenly disappear, and it is an awful sight.

Although it is impossible to predict exactly how hot NYC would become without its largest city park, it is estimated that large parks or tracts of urban trees can cool daytime summer temperatures by 10-12 degrees. Thus, we can assume that New York would be a much warmer city without Central Park's canopy.

Without our dedication to preserving existing green spaces in urban areas and creating new lush, leafy environments locally – in our towns and cities – the urban world that many of us call home would look (and feel) entirely different.

Without the cooling effect of Central Park's greenery, the city would be 
an estimated 10-12 degrees hotter year round
Planting and maintaining trees over time improves air and water quality and provides shade, beauty, health and general wellbeing for cities and towns. Click HERE for a list of other benefits of planting trees in our communities. Many individuals, groups, and organizations have dedicated themselves to the cause, and you can help!

Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to improving health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees.” They support tree planting in communities across the United States through their program, “Plant Our Future,”engaging a national network of local organizations and connecting with private partners. They believe that planting a tree today can create a greener, cleaner, and healthier tomorrow, and they provide opportunities nationwide for people to engage and make a difference.

Volunteers celebrating after planting a tree together
ACTrees provides a number of resources and opportunities to get involved in your local community and make a difference in a way that makes sense to you. Donate or volunteer in your local city or town, take action and support a local organization, or if you’re already working toward creating a greener, healthier world, connect with other like-minded individuals and organizations through one of ACTrees’ training events and conferences.

ACTrees are dedicated to making sure that everyone has an opportunity to take part in creating healthier, greener communities across the United States. You can help make a difference. It may take all of us to truly change the world, but it only takes a pair of hands and a kind heart to plant a tree.

Here are a few links to get started.

About ACTrees: http://actrees.org/about-us/
Resources: http://actrees.org/resources/
Donate: http://actrees.org/donate/plant-a-tree/
Sponsor an event: http://actrees.org/donate/sponsor-an-event/