Update December 2023: The UK Tree Equity Score tool is now live – find out more.

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) is contributing to the development of an innovative new mapping tool which will help expand urban tree canopy in the UK.

The Tree Equity Score will utilise a scientific approach to determine the tree canopy cover needed for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits that trees can provide. 

Launched in the US last year by American Forests, the Tree Equity Score transformed the field of urban forestry and has helped communities address a dangerous reality: a map of tree cover in US cities is almost always a map of income and race. This systemic lack of tree cover in low-income and neighbourhoods of colour has life-threatening implications in the face of extreme heat, rising air pollution, flooding and other threats fuelled by climate change.  

CSH is now partnering with American Forests and The Woodland Trust to launch this tool in the UK in 2023.

“The Tree Equity Score provides the tools to visualise data that allow communities to understand their current tree canopy cover from the perspective of equity, and gives impetus to increase it,” said Rachel Stancliffe, CSH’s founder and director. “As we work with the NHS to realise the potential of its green estate as a resilient healthcare asset, the Tree Equity Score will help us prioritise efforts where they are most needed.” 

When people have access to trees where they live, income-related health inequalities are less marked. Studies show that access to nature and green space leads to positive outcomes for heart rates, blood pressure, stress, mood and self-esteem, obesity, children’s cognitive development and more. In England alone, the NHS could save an estimated £2.1 billion every year in treatment costs if everyone had access to good quality green space.  

“Trees are more than scenery for our communities, they are critical infrastructure for people and our planet,” said Jad Daley, president and CEO for American Forests. “The climate crisis is a global challenge, and we’re thrilled to partner with the Woodland Trust and the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare to bring the Tree Equity Score to the United Kingdom.” 

Tree Equity Score tool. American Forests 2022, all rights reserved.
Tree Equity Score tool. American Forests 2022, all rights reserved.

“Trees have a huge part to play in creating better places for people to live, and at the Woodland Trust, we want all communities to have the access they need to the benefits of trees and woodland,” said Darren Moorcroft, chief executive officer of the Woodland Trust. “We are excited to be working with American Forests and a range of partners to bring this innovative project to the UK.” 

The expansion of the Tree Equity Score to the UK is made possible by support from Salesforce, the world’s leading customer relationship management platform.

About the Tree Equity Score 

In the U.S., the Tree Equity Score currently combines socioeconomic status, existing tree cover, population density and other information for 150,000 neighbourhoods and 486 metropolitan areas to determine whether locations have enough trees to provide optimal health, economic and climate benefits.  

Each score indicates whether there are enough trees in a neighbourhood for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits that trees provide. Scores are based on tree canopy, surface temperature, income, employment, race, age and health factors. A 0-to-100-point system makes it easy to understand how a community fares. 

To learn more visit: www.treeequityscore.org.

Banner photo by Tom Rumble on Unsplash

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