Why Trees are Important!
A map of tree cover is often a map of income and race and health outcomes. The inequitable distribution of trees exacerbates social inequities.
The most imminent concern to Wilmington is the “urban heat island” effect and its devastating health consequences. Wilmington’s subtropical climate - characterized by hot, humid summers and mild winters - makes its disadvantaged neighborhoods with low canopy coverage especially susceptible. For every 1℉ increase during a heat wave, there is a 2.5% increase in mortality. Wilmington is likely to see 10 more days above 95 °F (extreme heat days) per year by 2045 and at least 16 additional warm nights, where the minimum temperature does not fall below 75 °F, per year. In July, the National Weather Service said that so far, 2023 is the hottest year on record in Wilmington.
Expansion of tree canopy is essential for reducing urban heat island effect. Trees reduce peak surface temperatures by 20–45 ºF.
Of course, trees also boost health by lowering blood pressure and stress, improving mental well-being, reducing conditions that worsen respiratory problems like asthma, and improving immunity and mental focus (even ADHD).
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.