How Should We Pay for Street Trees?
Citylab (October 3, 2017)

Trees have proved to aid mental health, decrease obesity and other health risks, and just generally make people happier. But they are often thought of as a luxury rather than a vital component of healthcare or urban infrastructure. In a new report, The Nature Conservancy, a conservation-focused nonprofit, argues that trees are an important public health asset and should be funded as such.

“Just like the public health sector has gotten used to thinking about walkable cities as something they need to care about, we’re advocating that they need to think about nature and parks as part of that quest,” says Robert McDonald, a lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy and co-author of the report.

McDonald hopes that cities will start to integrate urban forestry into their other health, wellness, and environmental initiatives. Despite the benefits, there are multiple reasons why tree planting falls by the wayside. For one, it’s a process that often requires the coordination of multiple agencies—not just forestry, but other departments like transportation and water. “We’ve set up our cities so there’s one agency to manage trees and parks, and they don’t have a health mandate. Other agencies do care about health, but don’t have a mandate to plant trees,” McDonald explains. Cities often do not see the link between residents’ health and the presence of trees.

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