Over the past 100 years, more than a third of the planet’s old-growth forest disappeared. Each year we are losing 4.7 million hectares of forests. This is a problem not only from an environmental but also social and economic perspective.
Trees provide important ecosystem services with respect to air quality, climate amelioration, water conservation, soil preservation, and supporting wildlife. Trees control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain, and wind. Trees provide food and shelter to an endless number of species. They offer social and spiritual value, increasing our quality of life and offering numerous health benefits. They provide significant economic value both as individual trees, such as by providing shade and reducing energy cost, and collectively as green spaces and landscape proven to increase property and neighborhood appeal and values. It has been estimated that trees provide an average of $500 million value in benefits each year to large cities like Dallas. According to the World Economic Forum, a systemic transformation to a nature-friendly economy could create 395 million jobs and deliver USD 10.1 trillion of economic value globally by 2030.
These topics were central at April 15th’s ImpactNights®. Few people know that Dallas is second only to Phoenix, Arizona for having the strongest heat island effect. This problem, just like environmental challenges in general, disproportionately impact under-resourced communities. Environmental equity is an especially pressing issue as under-resourced, often predominantly minority, communities are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of climate change and environmental degradation. The Texas Trees Foundation, along with the City of Dallas, has been at the forefront of implementing innovative approaches to tackle this challenge. Janette Monear, President & CEO of the Texas Tree Foundation, and Susan Alvarez, Assistant Director, Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability for the City of Dallas, shared their experiences on the work they have been doing and insights about priorities going forward. This important conversation was moderated by Dr. Candice Bledsoe.
A key take-away of the event was the need for research and data to drive smart policy to ensure intentional actions and support are in place to protect, maintain and plant trees, especially in locations where they can provide maximum environmental, social and economic value, and citizen advocacy to lawmakers to emphasize the importance of these issues.
ImpactNights™ is the physical manifestation of the Inclusive Economy Consortium where we connect, share, and act. This event is about like-minded people coming together to share experiences and knowledge from the local, national, and international community within the Consortium to share their best practices and expertise. Monthly discussions are around pressing social issues facing our society. All of this is designed to get collective action for a more inclusive economy. Follow us on Eventbrite to be the first to know when event details are published so you can register to join the conversation.
This event is generously sponsored by Target Corporation and hosted by the Inclusive Economy Consortium, an initiative of Hunter & Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity located in Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University.
Join us next time to be a part of the conversation to CONNECT – SHARE – ACT!
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