Canopy of Care Project Launches to Develop Urban Tree Canopy in Boston

This Earth Day, three community organizations are teaming up to launch the Canopy of Care Project, an exciting new initiative aimed at developing Boston’s urban tree canopy. Old South Church in Boston’s Climate Crisis Task Force, Speak for the Trees Boston, and Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston have partnered to kick off the project, which will begin with a pilot tree planting event on April 22nd at a five-family property built by Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston in Dorchester’s Codman Square.

An abundance of scientific research shows the importance of the urban tree canopy for mitigating climate change, reducing summer peak temperatures and air pollution, improving public health, and providing shade and habitat for wildlife. However, due to the legacy of redlining that divided urban areas by socioeconomic and racial lines, there is an unequal distribution of tree canopy in Boston. Communities lacking trees face hotter summers, poorer air quality, and less livable neighborhoods.

The Canopy of Care project seeks to address the historical and ongoing environmental injustices faced by low-income communities and communities of color by promoting community-led solutions that prioritize local knowledge and participation.

Habitat Boston homeowners at the pilot location have worked with experts at Speak for the Trees Boston to select tree species and planting locations that are most promising. The trees will be planted by the Habitat Boston homeowners and volunteers from Old South Church in Boston. Habitat Boston homeowners have already set up a rain barrel water catchment system to supply the needed water for these new trees, and they will receive gardening supplies and training to set them up for successful long-term tree care.

Reverend Katherine Schofield explained, “This partnership came together in such a simple way. Old South wanted to do a service project to plant some trees, but we have no property where we could do so. Speak for the Trees provides trees and training to people who want to help grow the urban tree canopy. And Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston knows homeowners who want to add trees to their yard and are interested in learning to care for them. We are so excited to see where this partnership will go.” 

Micaela Younger, Architecture and Sustainable Design Coordinator at Habitat Boston said, "We are excited to partner with Old South and Speak for the Trees, they have put in incredible work and effort to make this project come together. This is a great opportunity to expand our mission of affordable homes while including environmental sustainability standards which will strengthen the local community."

The pilot program at the Codman Square location is intended to be the first in a series of similar plantings, with hopes to replicate the project at many other Habitat sites throughout the city. The Earth Day event is just the beginning of what promises to be a lasting partnership to develop Boston’s urban tree canopy and promote environmental justice in underserved communities.