Demonstrations and solutions

Drought. Flooding. Air and water pollution. High energy costs. Urban blight. There was a time when people saw these problems in Los Angeles as unrelated. Now we know they’re closely connected and largely the result of alterations people have made to our landscape.

TreePeople proposes a better future: an L.A. shaded and healed with Functioning Community Forests, with abundant greenery, clean water and breathable air. In our vision for L.A., people unite to plant and care for trees and employ tree-mimicking technologies to make their neighborhoods sustainable.

Leading by example

TreePeople’s Natural Urban Systems Group (NUSG) began as the Trans-Agency Resources for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (T.R.E.E.S.) Project, launched in 1997 to demonstrate the benefits of integrating forest-inspired technologies such as infiltrators, swales and cisterns in urban settings, alongside strategically-planted trees. 

TreePeople's NUSG uses an integrated management approach, where all stakeholders work together to arrive at sustainable solutions.  Using this approach, conventional single-purpose solutions are tranformed into multi-purpose, multi-partner collaborations which yield greater environmental benefits and cost-savings. 

From a single-family home to large-scale retrofits on school campuses and in parks, TreePeople is showing through design charrettes and their resulting demonstration projects that integrating nature's cycles into the urban landscape is not only desirable, but technically feasible.  In 2008, we completed the Center for Community Forestry at TreePeople’s headquarters in Coldwater Canyon Park. By using an emerging set of technologies based on natural processes, TreePeople has shown that these projects can provide essential city services while at the same time mitigating climate change, reducing energy use, providing recreational space, and creating a local reliable water supply.  Additionally, through various efforts, TreePeople encourages individuals and communities to transform and restore the urban landscape, one parcel at a time.

Policy outreach

TreePeople also promotes the creation of Functioning Community Forests by engaging in policymaker outreach and education to advance sustainable policies for L.A. and communities beyond.We work at the city, county, regional, state and federal government levels to advance integrated solutions with a focus on critical water supply and quality issues. Through partnerships with government entities such as the LA Department of Water and Power and the City and County Departments of Public Works, TreePeople works to have sustainable green solutions become common practice in both the public and private sectors.

SB 790, the Stormwater Resource Planning Act, a TreePeople-sponsored bill, was passed by the State of California on October 12, 2009.

Green jobs

Creating Functioning Community Forests not only makes our cities healthier, it also results in new “green collar” jobs – including tree and landscape maintenance work, as well as jobs that employ technologies to harvest, clean and store precious rainwater. Green jobs are at the heart of true sustainability.

Tools and resources

Learn more about TreePeople's sustainable solutions and find tips for implementing them at home or in your neighborhood:

You can also learn more about the benefits of cisterns by designing a virtual one with our cistern model.

For more information, contact naturalurbansystems@treepeople.org or (818) 623-4889.