Tree Pittsburgh celebrates 17 years of growing and protecting our urban forest through tree planting, care, education, and advocacy. The organization ensures all people have equal access to the many benefits trees provide by directing resources where they are needed the most. As the impact of climate change grows, cities are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures and severe weather events. According to Penn State University’s Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, the Pittsburgh region could resemble Knoxville, TN, by mid-century and Jonesboro, AR, by 2080, a place that is currently 10 degrees warmer in the summer. The PA DEP reports that annual precipitation in PA has increased by 10% over the last century, and projections through mid-century predict a continued rise. Pittsburgh can expect more flooding, landslides, and stress on infrastructure – including its tree canopy.
Trees positively impact human health and community vitality in urban areas by cooling and cleaning the air, absorbing stormwater, and improving community and mental health outcomes. With the negative impacts of climate change on the rise, the need for trees and a more resilient tree canopy becomes increasingly urgent.
Unfortunately, Tree Pittsburgh’s tree canopy analysis of Allegheny County shows a consistent decline between 2010 – 2020. The most recent analysis (2015-2020) shows a loss of 21,047 and gain of 16,931 – for a net loss of 4,116 acres. This equates to 638,000 trees, assuming an average of 155 trees to an acre of tree canopy. The increasing frequency of severe storms, wetter weather, and escalating invasive pest and disease infestations present daunting challenges for organizations like Tree Pittsburgh whose mission centers on growing and preserving trees.
Tree Pittsburgh has worked alongside communities to plant more than 55,000 trees, distribute more than 20,000 to County residents, graduate over 3,000 residents from its Tree Tender course, and continues to grow more than 20,000 trees annually in its Heritage Nursery located in Lawrenceville. Learn more about how to get involved at http://www.treepittsburgh.org.
Want to take a deeper dive into tree equity in Pittsburgh? View Tree Pittsburgh’s presentation.