Groundwork RI Leads Tree Equity Planting in Pawtucket/Central Falls

We are pleased to announce that Groundwork RI is taking the lead on newly-awarded Tree Planting for Climate Resilience and Human Health grant to expand tree cover in Pawtucket and Central Falls! As part of the Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone (PCF HEZ), Groundwork RI has been awarded $100,000 to work hand-in-hand with the municipalities, residents, and other HEZ stakeholders to plant 140 trees in the PCF neighborhoods with the hottest temperatures, least number of trees, and other vulnerabilities.

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Groundwork RI is now looking to identify and prioritize all 140 locations to plant in spring/fall 2021. PCF residents, business owners, and school personnel are encouraged to contact Program Coordinator, Leandro Castro, at kcastro@groundworkri.org if they are interested in having trees on their property. Interested parties can also sign up to express their interest using this form.

Do you live or work in Pawtucket or Central Falls?
Interested in trees?
Sign up here!

This tree planting effort builds off an American Forests project to achieve Tree Equity, defined as the right number of trees so all people, regardless of neighborhood, experience the health, economic and other benefits of trees.  American Forests, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Rhode Island Foundation, and Bank of America collaborated to fund this first urban forestry grant to increase tree cover in a Health Equity Zone. Health Equity Zones (HEZ) are a State of Rhode Island designation to prioritize investment in participating communities to improve people’s health. Many HEZ communities lack trees, which contribute to healthier communities. Trees cool neighborhoods, reducing heat-related deaths, and they filter the air, which decreases the risk of respiratory illnesses.

American Forests worked with Rhode Island to determine a Tree Equity Score for all urbanized areas in the state. The score measures a neighborhood’s tree coverage while also taking into account socioeconomic and health factors, local development patterns, urban heat island effect, and then compares the neighborhood to others. American Forests also developed a companion tool, Tree Equity Score Analyzer (TESA), which provides more specific information on the neighborhoods and individual parcels of land where trees can be planted in order to achieve equitable tree cover. These resources can be used by conservation organizations, community groups and others to help make the case for, and drive investment in neighborhoods  with the greatest need for trees, jobs, and protection from the effects of climate change.

The grant will support the use of TESA to plant trees on public and private property in PCF neighborhoods that have low Tree Equity Scores. Residents and community groups working to improve health outcomes will decide where to plant each tree, choosing from a list of planting sites recommended by TESA.

Groundwork RI’s GroundCorp landscape and Green Team programs will both participate in this tree planting effort. Our Green Team is learning how to use TESA and will lead remote presentations for community members about how the tool can be used to create Tree Equity in PCF. Green Team members will also be involved in community engagement and education efforts, helping to identify and recruit home and business owners who want trees planted on their property. Five HEZ partner members will receive stipends to help recruit community participants for the presentations and tree plantings.

This grant addresses the need for long–term care and maintenance of trees as well. Our GroundCorp landscape team will be in charge of regular maintenance and watering under a 3-year maintenance plan. In addition, Green Team members will receive training in tree care and stewardship for three consecutive summers from partner, Providence Neighborhood Planting Program (PNPP), to support maintenance efforts, especially summertime watering, ensuring the long-term survival of the newly-planted trees.

This project provides an exciting model for how other cities across the U.S. can use Tree Equity Scores to prioritize equity and inclusion in urban forestry projects. Groundwork RI is thrilled to have this opportunity and looks forward to getting started in spring 2021!

For more information, visit:

TESA – Tree Equity Score Analyzer

American Forests Grant Announcement 

LISC Pawtucket Central Falls HEZ 

Thank you to our funders!
American Forests, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, RI Department of Health, RI Foundation, Bank of America

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