(The Center Square) – Pittsburgh recently launched phase one of its plan to increase tree cover in low-income and historically Black neighborhoods across the city.
The $200,000 survey, the first step of the Shade Tree Commission’s Equitable Street Investment Strategy, will identify 10 “low canopy” areas in which to focus fundraising efforts and eventually increase tree coverage by 20% in each neighborhood.
Once completed, the commission will select 10 more neighborhoods for planting, eventually adding 100,000 trees to the city over the coming decade.
Tree Pittsburgh, an advocacy group that supports environmental justice initiatives, said more than half of the city lacks adequate tree coverage. Low income and Black communities are overrepestented in the data, they said, and acknowledging the “historical, structural racism that created this inequity” is critical “to achieving greater equity today.”
The group pointed to a study from Vibrant Cities Lab, which has shown that lacking tree coverage correlates to poor academic performance, increased crime rates, serious health issues, and more deaths due to poor air quality and extreme heat.
City officials did not respond to an email seeking comment about the program.