Dallas City Council Approves Urban Forest Master Plan

The plan seeks to mitigate the effects of urban heat islands by preserving and growing the city's tree canopy.

June 21, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Luis Tamayo / Flickr

The city of Dallas has adopted "the city's first urban forest master plan, with 14 recommendations for a unified approach to build a resilient and equitable urban forest," reports Marian Rachal in Smart Cities Dive. The plan calls for regulations that "support tree canopy preservation and growth, maximizing investment in urban forest programs and management, and creating a city storm response and recovery plan."

The Texas Trees Foundation, the non-profit that developed the plan, argues that as development in Dallas increases, the city is at higher risk for "heat island effects that affect a significant number of economically and medically vulnerable residents." A recent study on heat islands showed that "Dallas is heating up faster than every other U.S. city except for Phoenix" and could, by 2050, "have 30 to 60 additional days over 100 degrees F per year." Urban forests provide other benefits, too: "higher standardized test scores at middle schools, decreases in violent crimes, improved mental health and even shorter hospital stays for patients with views of trees," increased property values, and reduced energy costs.

The Dallas plan follows other urban forest management initiatives in cities like Los Angeles, which "in 2019 created a city forest officer position with a Southern California urban forestry expert specifically focused on managing the city's urban forest."

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