Learn the role of trees mitigating these challenges. Most people do not know that Dallas is second only to Phoenix, Arizona for having the strongest heat island effect. The Texas Trees Foundation, along with the City of Dallas, has been at the forefront of implementing innovative approaches to tackle this challenge. While the importance of trees is widely recognized from an environmental and climate perspective, their critical role with respect to health equity, inequality and economic development deserves more attention.

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 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.

Watch the video to hear the entire conversation. Follow the Inclusive EconomyHunt Institute, and our profile on Eventbrite to be the first to know when the details for the next ImpactNights® are published, so you too can join the conversation.

ImpactNights® is generously sponsored by Target Corporation. Special thanks to Dr. Csaky, Dr. Candice Bledsoe, Janette Monear, and Susan Alvarez for their contributions to this post.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedInFacebook, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

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