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For immediate release: Sept. 11, 2018
Contact: Rachel Gordon, 415-554-6045
A Thriving Urban Forest Offers Natural Way to Help Combat Global Warming
San Francisco, CA – On the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit that San Francisco is hosting for visitors from across the world, volunteers today planted 80 new trees to beautify two central city neighborhoods and highlight the environmental benefits of a thriving urban forest.
Trees, through the natural process of photosynthesis, absorb carbon dioxide – a primary contributor of global warming – and release oxygen. They also improve air quality by removing pollutant particulates. A single mature tree can consume more than 40 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, keeping it out of the atmosphere.
“Planting more trees not only beautifies our communities, it makes our City more sustainable and helps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor London Breed. “As the host of the Global Climate Action Summit, San Francisco is making a series of ambitious commitments to combat climate change. Including more trees and green spaces throughout the City will help us reach our climate goals.”
One big reason is the role trees play in combatting climate change – the central theme of the Global Climate Action Summit that will be held at Moscone Center South Sept. 12-14, 2018. The summit aims to unite people from around the world to celebrate and brainstorm ways that cities, states, companies, investors and individuals can protect the environment from global warming.
During a break in the tree-planting activities in the South of Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods, Breed was joined by state Sen. Scott Wiener at the Turk and Hyde Mini Park to participate in a demonstration of a web-based tree benefits calculator, the GHG i-Tree Planting Calculator.
The software tool, which can be used on a computer or a mobile device, quantifies the estimated environmental value that each tree can produce over its lifetime, such as carbon sequestration, air quality, energy savings and stormwater management.
As part of the Global Climate Action Summit, cities from across the globe are pledging to reduce their carbon footprint.
“The action of planting trees is more than a ‘feel good’ moment; it’s how we bring balance to the global ecosystem and remove the carbon that we have put into the air,” said Debbie Raphael, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “Trees are long-term investments in our planet, our children, and those who follow.”
State Sen. Scott Wiener added, “We should always be working to grow our urban forest. Planting more trees in our neighborhoods makes our cities more sustainable, our residents happier and healthier, and our environment more resilient.”
San Francisco now has the foundation to support a thriving urban forest under a program that may serve as a model for other cities. Two years ago, voters gave overwhelming support to the StreetTreeSF ballot measure that sets aside $19 million a year for the City to maintain its street trees.
“StreetTreeSF is a real game-changer,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “For the first time, we have a sustainable funding stream to adequately care for our street trees. Now we have the opportunity to not only ensure we properly maintain the trees we have but that the trees we plant in the future also will flourish and benefit the environment.”
San Francisco has 125,000 streets trees, and another 131,000-plus trees in City parks, with plans to plant tens of thousands more over the next two decades.
“The more than 131,000 trees in San Francisco parks stand as testament to our commitment to the environment,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Maintaining our large tree canopy is just one way we fight climate change while improving air quality and health for our residents.”
San Francisco and other communities rely on the strong partnerships of nonprofit organizations to expand the urban forest, both in funding and volunteer power.
“American Forests is fully committed to deliver urban forests as a climate solution, and will use our expertise in climate-smart forestry to help cities, states, and community groups to do the same,” said Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests. “Here at the Global Climate Action Summit, we are proud to plant trees in partnership with Mayor Breed and the City of San Francisco, Friends of the Urban Forest, and our other highly valued partners to demonstrate that forests can deliver climate solutions everywhere, even city streets, and the time to start is right now.”
Among the species planted today were Brisbane box, red maple, London planetree and swamp myrtle. Sponsoring partners include San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco Department of the Environment, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, Friends of the Urban Forest, American Forests, City Forest Credits, California ReLeaf, and California Urban Forests, with volunteer help from the Tenderloin Community Benefit District and UC Hastings College of the Law.