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Why Trees are Important!

The mission of the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees (ACFT) is to preserve, protect and plant trees to enhance the health and quality of life for present and future generations in the Lower Cape Fear area.


This mission is based on the fact that the benefits of trees go beyond beauty. Trees improve human health.

As we all know, summers in Wilmignton are really HOT. If you live in an area without many trees, it can be a LOT hotter, and such heat can have deadly consequences. Heat related illnesses cause more deaths in the U.S. each year than any other natural disaster, including hurricanes, lightning, tornados, floods, and earthquakes. See the 'Urban Heat Island Effect' info box to learn more.


Trees are an important tool in reducing other health stressors that impact vulnerable populations. People who live in neighborhoods with more tree canopy have better overall health, including lower rates of obesity, less stress, lower blood pressure, and more social cohesion. Trees reduce conditions that worsen respiratory problems like asthma, enhance immunity, and improve mental well-being and focus (even ADHD). One study found that the pollutants removed by trees saves over 850 lives and prevents 670,000 incidents of acute respiratory symptoms in the U.S. each year. Another study found the number of residents who reported poor mental health decreased 63% within 18 months after vacant lots near their homes were planted with grass and trees.

Trees enhance neighborhoods by strengthening ties between neighbors, encouraging outdoor play, reducing crime, and providing a sense of safety. A 10% increase in canopy cover has been correlated with a 12-15% reduction in violence and property crimes.

The health and social benefits of trees are overwhelming. Improving Wilmington's shrinking tree canopy will have wide-spread and long-lasting benefits. Planting trees is a good investment! If you'd like to support us, please consider volunteering at one of our events and/or making a donation.

Urban Heat Island Effect
and why it is so devastating for Wilmington
ILM heat disparity.png

While trees reflect the sun’s heat, structures like buildings, roads, and parking lots absorb it, raising daytime temperatures by 1-7°F. This is known as “Urban Heat Island Effect” (UHIE) and its consequences can be devastating. During a heat wave, UHIE can increase temperatures over 20°F. For every 1℉ increase during a heat wave, there is a 2.5% increase in heat-related mortality.  


Increases in temperature are associated with increased rates of respiratory difficulties (such as asthma), heat stroke, and heat-related mortality.


Wilmington’s subtropical climate - characterized by hot, humid summers and mild winters - makes its disadvantaged neighborhoods with low canopy coverage especially susceptible. Wilmington is likely to see 10 more days above 95 °F (extreme heat days) per year by 2045. The National Weather Service said that so far, 2023 is the hottest year on record in Wilmington.

Improvement of tree canopy is essential for reducing UHIE. Trees can reduce peak surface temperatures by 20–45ºF.

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