The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Connecticut Urban Forest Council, and the University of Connecticut this week announced the Urban Forest Equity & Resilience Grant Program, available to municipalities and nonprofit organizations in Connecticut to implement statewide urban forest canopy improvements called for in the 2021 Governor’s Council on Climate Change Report and the 2020 Forest Action Plan.
According to a recent study by researchers at the Nature Conservancy, 92 percent of low-income blocks in the U.S. have less tree cover and hotter average temperatures than high-income blocks. Five of the ten worst discrepancies in the United States were found in Connecticut, and low-income and communities of color with low urban tree cover are among the most vulnerable populations to climate change and its impacts.
Investments in canopy cover can help to offset the impacts of climate change and urbanization including the urban heat island effect that “leads to disproportionate impacts felt by our urban residents, which during a heat wave, can range from discomfort, to serious health problems, and even death,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “
Urban Forest Equity and Resilience Grants, funded through Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Auction proceeds, will seek to address environmental justice and tree equity concerns throughout Connecticut.
DEEP will assist its program partners in selecting projects with the following areas of focus:
- Urban Forestry – Enhance, increase, and improve local tree canopy cover through the planting, management, and post-establishment treatments of trees. This may include maintenance of mature and large trees that provide high levels of ecosystem services such as cooling, pollution reduction, and habitat.
- Climate Change – Reduce the effects of climate change and/or mitigate factors that contribute to climate change. Specially, the storing and sequestering of carbon, offsetting the urban heat island effect, and increasing resilience to more frequent and intense weather events.
- Environmental Justice and Equity – Redress disparities in canopy cover and socio-economic status by investing in underserved communities, especially those that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
- Community Involvement – Demonstrate that community interests and needs are at the forefront of any proposed project.