Have you ever wondered why some neighborhoods have fewer trees? This idea of the urban tree canopy directly relates to the per capita income of any given neighborhood and how trees are distributed throughout those neighborhoods. Studies show that for every 1% increase in per capita income, the demand for tree coverage increases by 1.76%. When income decreased by 1%, the demand for tree coverage declined by 1.26% (Source: Zhu, P., & Zhang, Y. (2008). Demand for urban forests in United States cities Landscape and Urban Planning, 84 (3-4), 293-300 DOI).
Research shows that wealthier cities can afford and are willing to pay for more tree “infrastructure” on both public and private properties. City governments, who are able to draw from a larger tax “money-pot,” are able to invest more funds in tree implementation and any maintenance associated with them. The ability to live in a neighborhood or city that is canopy dense should not depend on the financial means of individual residents.
This idea of “tree equity” should be something that everyone can benefit from, which in turn helps improve the air quality and creates a healthier and more enjoyable living environment. As we continue to plan for the growth of our cities, tree implementation should remain a priority!