Campus Forestry

Campus Forestry

TreePeople has extensive experience creating partnerships with schools and school districts to implement and manage school greening projects. By greening our schools and creating living schoolyards, we are:

  • Reducing particulate matter and air pollution by expanding a healthy tree canopy
    • Healthy trees are proven to absorb and filter pollutant gases such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone by trapping them on their leaves and bark. A thriving tree canopy is critically important to the neighborhood which consistently records some of the worst releases of airborne particulate matter in not only Los Angeles but of all California. Increased tree canopy also leads to an increase in local wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors. Additionally, the proposed 147 trees can also generate about $39.2/year for carbon sequestration, $249.9/year for building energy reduction, and $1.8/year for reduced carbon emissions (Nowak Study). 
  • Increasing stormwater capture and reducing water pollution by transforming impervious surfaces into green spaces
    • Removing over 14,000 square feet of asphalt and filling with remediated soil and native plants will create a system that will substantially increase the capture and cleaning of stormwater annually, and reduce urban runoff (water pollution). Depending on tree species, age, storm intensity and duration, an urban tree can capture 15 to 80% of rainfall in its leaves, stems and trunk alone (USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station). In urban areas, soil is often compacted due to development and use of the land by vehicles and pedestrians. Tree roots play an invaluable role in increasing permeability in compacted soils – increasing infiltration by one and a half times (Virginia Polytechnic Institute). 
  • Improving public health and reducing consumption of natural resources through urban heat island mitigation
    • Living schoolyards reduce the consumption of non-renewable natural resources by: selecting drought tolerant plants and water-efficient irrigation systems that include water-conserving automatic sensors to reduce consumption of water; reducing consumption of petroleum products through the reduction of trips taken by car; and using trees to shade and cool buildings with trees to decrease the need for air conditioning. Reducing consumption of natural resources saves energy and reduces GHG emissions and helps protect people from the deady public health impacts of extreme heat.  Shade from trees can lower surface temperatures by up to 45°F, and trees also provide evaporative cooling and can lower air temperatures up to 9°F (US EPA). Research led by TreePeople and the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative found a direct correlation between a decrease in mortality and increased tree canopy coverage, with the possibility of saving upwards of 25% of lives currently lost during heat waves just by planting more trees and increasing the solar reflectance of L.A.’s built environment.
  • Increasing community involvement, leading to long-term stability
    • TreePeople’s school greening efforts rely on a community-based model that supports and trains community members to plant and care for the gardens and trees. This ensures long term sustainability and survival of the greening efforts, as well as, leads to future workforce development opportunities tied to green jobs for students and leads to eco-conscious residents that bring their learnings back to their homes.
  • Improving academic achievement and mental health
    • Cross-sectional studies have found that green space and tree canopy percentage was strongly inversely correlated with measures of depression, anxiety, and stress. In addition, greener campuses and outdoor classrooms support better learning environments and academic achievement.

In 2015, we released the Power of Schools Report that focused on the concept of a LAUSD Water Partnership project, examining collaborative options that could allow for increased stormwater capture projects on LAUSD campuses.

Large-scale school greening projects led by TreePeople:

For more information on our School Greening initiatives, please contact Ariel Whitson at awhitson@treepeople.org