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Environmental Quality / 2013

Million Trees LA Plant Toward a Sustainable Urban Forest That Supports Healthy Families .

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Million Trees LA, a project of Community Partners

Million Trees LA (MTLA) is a citywide initiative launched in September 2006 by Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. MTLA is a collaborative effort of the City of Los Angeles, community groups, businesses and individuals, working together to plant and provide long-term stewardship of LA’s urban forest. Trees provide shade and save on energy costs, clean the air and help reduce green house gases that cause global warming, capture polluted urban runoff, improve water quality and add beauty to our neighborhoods. Million Trees LA would like to have a series of fruit tree adoptions with a focus on food deserts and deliver fruit trees to people who live or own property within the City of Los Angeles. A fruit tree adoption is where tress are available for free to be planted on residential properties and people are provided information on to plant and care for trees. People adopt a tree and pledge to plant it on their private property. In addition to the environmental benefits of fruit trees, such as improving air quality, fruit trees give people access to healthy food that they grow. It is important for everyone to have access to healthy food options, such as fruit. People’s geographic area should not prevent them from having fresh, healthy food. By providing fruit trees in the City of Los Angeles, including food deserts, we are giving people the opportunity to improve their health and help the environment. Giving away fruit trees either at fruit trees adoptions or by delivering the fruit trees to residential properties for planting, gives people access to fresh, healthy foods while planting a tree that will reduce greenhouse gases, help them save energy by providing shade and capture storm water to replenish groundwater tables. Locally grown food also reduces any pollution emitted by the transportation of fruit from far away places. This will also provide people with the ability to add green space where they live. There are also social benefits provided by trees. More than 8% of children in Los Angeles-217,000- suffer from asthma. Studies have shown that an increase in tree-lined streets could lower that number by 25%. Research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference in Chicago showed that the presence of trees could cut crime by as much as 7%. Specific Activities: (1) MTLA will work with our partners to coordinate and host a series of fruit tree adoptions and to manage the delivery of the fruit trees to private property located in the City of Los Angeles (2) MTLA will work with our partners and community organizations to conduct community outreach and inform people of the availability of the free fruit trees. (3) MTLA will conduct outreach to community organizations and businesses to secure sites to do the fruit tree adoptions, focusing on food deserts. (4) Door to door canvassing before the fruit tree adoption will take place in the geographic area around the fruit tree adoption site. (5) Our goal is to adopt or deliver to homes 1000 (5 gallon) fruit trees. (6) In order to adopt 1000 fruit trees we will need to have 5 fruit tree adoptions. The adoptions would take place during the June 2013-December 2013 grant period. (7) 5 gallon fruit trees will made available for MTLA’s Residential Tree Program, so residents of the City of Los Angeles can obtain free fruit trees to be planted on their private property. The tree will be delivered to them with the instructions and the materials needed to plant the tree. Million Trees LA is currently able to deliver free shade trees to people who live or own property in the City of Los Angeles through our Residential Tree Program. With the support of this grant we can expand the Residential Tree Program to include fruit trees and have fruit tree adoptions focused in food deserts in the City of Los Angeles. This will give people access to healthy foods and reduce their energy costs.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

400,000 Trees by July 2013 Million Trees LA’s public-private collaboration has planted over 380,000 trees and is on track to plant 400,000 trees by July 2013.

Rate of Planting-6X the last two administrations

According to the City of Los Angeles Urban Forest Division, Los Angles (including the City, NGOs and developers) planted an average of 10,000 trees annually during the previous two administrations. With limited resources and no direct funding from the City’s General Fund, MTLA has increased the annual tree planting six-fold (average 60,000/year).

Rate of Survival -Double the National Average Research conducted by the US Forest Service, the national new tree mortality rate is between 10% and 12%. MTLA’s mortality rate is half the national average at 4% and 5%.

A National Model The US Forest Service conducted a national study of large municipal tree planting programs in 2010/11 and found Million Trees LA to be a top model.

Awards Received 2012-“Best Urban Forestry Program” Award received from California urban Council

2009-“Outstanding Achievement Award” from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

The Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC) is currently our partner who coordinates with us to deliver trees to private properties in the City of Los Angeles through our residential tree program. LACC is also our partner who obtains the trees for both the Residential Program and the Fruit Tree Adoptions.

MTLA also partners with Fuego Tech-Fire Rangers , Hollywood/Los Angeles Beautification Team, Koreatown Youth and Community Center, North East Trees, and TreePeople to plant trees and conduct fruit tree adoptions.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

The metrics we will utilize for success will be determined by how many fruit trees are adopted or secured. In addition success will also be measured by community engagement, creation of new collaborations and the success of continued partnerships.

The project goal is to enhance environmental benefits and provide access to healthy food. This project will also allow us to educate the next generation on the importance of trees.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

The trees planted will sequester the carbon dioxide in the air and provide oxygen to breathe. A total of 300 trees can counter balance the amount of pollution one person produces in a lifetime. Trees shade our homes. This saves energy, so people who adopt these fruit trees will receive energy savings.

Tress raise ground water tables and are useful in helping to capture, filter, and restore rainwater to the groundwater table.

Trees provide many benefits including:

• More than 8% of children in Los Angeles – 217,000 – suffer from asthma. Studies have shown that an increase in tree-lined streets could lower that number by almost 25%.

• Research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference (AAAS) in Chicago showed that the presence of trees could cut crime by as much as 7%

• Two University of Illinois researchers (Kuo and Sullivan) studied how well residents of the Chicago Robert Taylor Housing Project (the largest public housing development in the world) were doing in their daily lives based upon the amount of were fewer contact they had with trees and came to the following conclusions: there are fewer reports of physical violence in homes that had trees outside the buildings. Of the residents interviewed, 14% of residents living in barren conditions have threatened to use a knife or gun against their children

These fruit trees will provide benefits to each individual or family who plants them beyond the environmental benefits that everyone who breathes air in Los Angeles will receive. They will be able to grow their own food. For some families, these fruit trees may be the only access to fresh, healthy food that they have. Fruit trees will help adults and children incorporate healthier foods into their diet.

One example of a food desert is South Los Angeles. According to the Community Health Council’s South Los Angeles Health Equity Scorecard, there is 0.10 supermarkets per square mile over 44,000 square feet in size.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Success in the Year 2050 would be to increase the percentage of City of Los Angeles residents having fruit or shade trees in their home. For the City of Los Angeles to continue to serve as the model to replicate, so that other cities within Los Angeles County also provide fruit trees to its residents.

Clean Air and Healthy Lifestyle Success would be for each of the families who received a fruit tree to have enjoyed the environmental benefits of the tree including breathing cleaner air and enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

A new generation of environmental leaders The young adults who worked to make this happen continue to work to protect the environment either professionally or in their personal time and are giving the youth of 2050 the opportunity to work on protecting the planet.

A healthy urban forest A healthy urban forest that makes the City of Los Angeles a greener, healthier place to live is what success would like for our indicator in 2050. Although our focus is the City of Los Angeles, a healthy urban forest is necessary for our planet.