Tree Planting in Ann Arbor to Better Children’s Health through Air Quality Improvements

December 15, 2021
ann arbor

The City of Ann Arbor’s Office of Sustainability and Innovations—along with 20 volunteers—planted 24 trees in the Bryant neighborhood of Ann Arbor this fall. Eight trees were given to residents to plant independently, resulting in 32 total trees planted. 

“Working with the City on the Urban Trees Initiative was fun and simple. It all started with an email from Coordinator Sean Reynolds. What really impressed me is that Sean guided me in identifying a tree that met my needs and also met the needs of the Initiative. I am blown away by this program—it is such an easy way to have an impact. It was, in a word, awesome!” said Bryant neighborhood resident Marc Anthony Brigolin.

By working individually with each resident participating in the program, city staff were able to tailor the trees provided to each household to best meet the needs of the residents, their property, and the neighborhood. And through conversations during initial site visits to determine species and tree placement, city staff engaged residents in conversations about sustainability, air quality, and fostering a healthier environment.

In 2022, the City plans to launch a series of similar neighborhood-focused tree planting events to provide environmental and health benefits (e.g., reduced neurotoxic exposure, green stormwater infrastructure, etc.) in neighborhoods where these benefits are most needed. 

“Through the Bryant community tree planting event, we contributed to our city’s green infrastructure – helping to reduce flooding and stormwater runoff, mitigate air pollution, and cool our homes and streets. Every resident can help us achieve these benefits by planting trees, and this program makes it easier than ever for our residents to get involved,” said Ann Arbor’s Mayor Christopher Taylor.

For Ann Arbor and perhaps other communities looking to implement similar programs, the Bryant neighborhood event highlighted three important steps: 1) identify priority neighborhoods for tree planting, based on equity, environmental and health risk factors, and existing tree canopy cover; 2) engage with residents early and often, both in groups and individually; and 3) recruit a large volunteer base to take on tree planting efforts.

Interested in learning more? Contact Sean Reynolds, Community Sustainability Coordinator, City of Ann Arbor, at SReynolds@a2gov.org, or visit our webpage at www.a2gov.org/10ktrees

Is your City interested in being part of Healthy Babies Bright Futures’ Bright Cities program? To discuss this and anything else, please contact Bright Cities Program Director, Kyra Naumoff Shields at knaumoff@hbbf.org.