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American Forests and Green Columbus have teamed up with Google to improve the distribution of trees in Central Ohio

Volunteers assisted in planting 50 trees in an area with one of the lowest Tree Equity Scores in Franklin County, which will help enhance the area’s tree coverage in the future…

Volunteers assisted in planting 50 trees in an area with one of the lowest Tree Equity Scores in Franklin County. This action will help enhance the area’s future tree canopy.

American Forests, the original national nonprofit conservation organization in the U.S., collaborated with Green Columbus to plant 50 trees at Columbus Africentric Early College High School on March 26. This planting follows the release of American Forests’ Franklin County, OH Tree Equity Score Analyzer application, which was backed by Google’s philanthropy Google.org, with $45,000 in funding.

The area where the trees were planted currently has a Tree Equity Score of 61, which is one of the lowest in the surrounding region.

From 2011 to 2021, the overall tree canopy coverage in Franklin County increased by 2.8% according to a Tree Canopy Assessment of Columbus and Franklin County. It will require a little over 4 million trees to achieve a Tree Equity Score of 100 in every neighborhood in Franklin County, ensuring an equal distribution of tree cover across the entire county.

This is a crucial advancement for urban forestry in Franklin County,” stated Joshua Simon, Senior Manager, Community Engagement at American Forests. “This initiative is not solely about tree planting. It aims to lay the foundation for a greener, more fair future for our community. By uniting diverse partners and resources, we are demonstrating a strong commitment to enhancing the environmental health and livability of our urban areas.

Representatives from Green Columbus, American Forests, Google, Tree Equity Score Analyzer Stakeholder Councilmembers, Columbus community members, and Columbus Africentric were all present at the planting, collaborating with volunteers, including local Google employees, to plant trees that will thrive in the Franklin County environment.

Our objective is to boost Tree Equity by planting trees in communities with high demand and involving residents in the process. We aim to foster a culture that values trees in Central Ohio, advocating for improved health outcomes, increased heat mitigation, and strong communities,” expressed Shelly Douglas, Executive Director of Green Columbus.

American Forests’ Tree Equity Score has long been a valuable tool for Franklin County communities to safeguard and sustain urban forestry projects. The location was selected based on the data accessible in American Forests’ Tree Equity Score Analyzer, which was recently introduced for Columbus and Franklin County and works alongside American Forests’ Tree Equity Score National Explorer.

The Franklin County TESA Stakeholder Council — a group of locally-based officials, environmental organizations and residents — also provided input on the final planting location. The newly developed Tree Equity Score Analyzer, customized for Columbus and Franklin County, offers advanced prioritization for tree planting efforts, scenario planning, and impact reporting. This tool is designed to assist users in improving Tree Equity Scores on a site-by-site basis, supporting a community-focused, data-informed strategy for developing practical tree planting and preservation approaches to ensure attention is given to neighborhoods in need of greater tree coverage.

Beyond financially supporting today’s planting, Google.org’s funding helped Green Columbus lead the establishment of the Franklin County TESA. Additionally, stipends were given to members of the TESA Stakeholder Council.

 “When used correctly, technology has the great ability to drive innovative solutions to difficult problems,” said Amber Tillman, Head of Data Center Economic and Community Development for the Eastern US & Canada. “We have been proud to assist in the formation of the TESA and are looking forward to seeing how the data and insights will be utilized to create greener, more fair urban spaces across Franklin County.”

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