What is Tree Equity?

Trees are more than scenery for our cities. They are critical infrastructure that every person in every neighborhood deserves — a basic right that we must secure. But a map of tree cover in America’s cities is too often a map of income and race. That’s because trees often are sparse in low-income neighborhoods and some neighborhoods of color. Ensuring equitable tree cover across every neighborhood can help address social inequities so that all people can thrive.

What is a Tree Equity Score (TES)?

TES calculates scores based on how much tree canopy and surface temperature align with income, employment, race, age and health factors in the U.S. Scores are available for 150,000 neighborhoods and 486 urbanized areas (places with at least 50,000 residents). More than 70 percent of people in the U.S. live in one of these places.

Each score indicates whether there are enough trees in specific neighborhoods or municipalities for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits that trees provide. TES utilizes a science-based approach to determine the tree canopy cover needed in a neighborhood to ensure the people living in urban areas benefit from everything trees provide.

City government employees, community activists, urban foresters and others can use the score to make the case for planting trees in the neighborhoods that need them the most, and allocating the resources needed to do so.

Our Goal

We all have a shared interest in using urban forests as a powerful tool to slow climate change, improve public health and promote social equity. Our goal for Tree Equity Score is that all 486 Census-defined urbanized areas in the country have to resources to create Tree Equity in their communities.

Our Team

This website and application was designed and developed in partnership with the creative design and communications studio Iced Coffee, Please., and Tom MacWright. American Forests and Iced Coffee, Please. also co-created the first Tree Equity Score Analyzer for the state of Rhode Island.

Our Funders

Tree Equity Score was made possible by the generous financial support from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), TAZO, Weyerhaeuser, and Salesforce. Additional financial support was provided by The Summit Foundation, Seedfund, Microsoft, and Zendesk.

Without Earth Define's critical donation of high-resolution high-accuracy tree canopy data, the calculation of Tree Equity Score would not have been possible. We are also grateful for the guidance and support of the USDA Forest Service as well as the team of tree experts that make i-Tree possible.

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Tree canopy data provided
by EarthDefine.
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