Supported by the City’s Bureau of Forestry, Alderperson Scott Waguespack, along with Alderpersons Samantha Nugent and George A. Cardenas, introduced an Ordinance (02020-3651) to establish it, and on June 23, 2021 it will go up for vote at Chicago City Council. Trees are important to Chicago and the health of its residents. They shade our parks, beautify our streets, absorb stormwater, and clean our air. But these benefits do not come freely – dedicated members of the City government, non-government partners, and thousands of volunteers care for the City’s trees.
The 2020 Tree Census that was just published by the Morton Arboretum reports that Chicago’s canopy has decreased by an alarming 3% to just 16% – one of the lowest tree canopy covers of any major US City. This is unacceptable and a threat to the health and well-being of communities across the city. Chicago is already experiencing climate change through more intense weather events affecting the city with severe flooding or drought. Residents are also experiencing an increase in heat-related stress due to impervious surfaces trapping heat increasing the urban heat island effect which doesn’t allow the city to cool down at night. The health of our urban tree canopy is dependent on our ability to mitigate these effects of climate change. Caring for our existing trees and planting more trees is a real solution.
We hope to create a resilient urban forest in Chicago by establishing an Urban Forestry Advisory Board. This Board will bring together agency heads, arborists, community leaders, and elected officials to coordinate efforts and discuss ways to sustain and grow the City’s tree canopy. It will identify opportunities to supplement public funds with private donations, increase public education, and recommend needed changes to City laws.
Please contact your Alderperson and Mayor Lightfoot to request their support for a UFAB or thank them for their existing support of the ordinance! Want to help us gain even more support? Download our Amplification Toolkit to help spread the word.