By Marion McParland
PHS is committed to creating healthy environments for those living in the City of Philadelphia and the region. Trees play a vital role in achieving this effort, capturing carbon, and mitigating pollution, as well as providing much-needed shade. In fact, an increased tree canopy promotes physical and mental health and well-being. PHS is dedicated to increasing our tree canopy to 30% coverage city-wide, with special attention on those neighborhoods where canopy can dip to 2%. We proudly partner with a number of organizations that share our dedication to understanding the impact of trees in our lives. In celebration of Arbor Day, here are updates on a few projects PHS is working on that you can soon experience.
PECO has been a long-time major supporter of PHS programs and for the past two years has made it possible for our community partners and volunteer groups to plant thousands of trees across the region. PECO’s strong commitment to making sure the right tree goes in the right place ensures that our trees will thrive and contribute to a healthy, increased canopy. Working closely with PECO, PHS has been able to align plantings with areas of the greatest need, as well as where replacement trees are necessary.
PHS’s involvement as a Presenting Partner for The Trust for Public Land’s project, “Heat Response: Stories from Philadelphia’s Hottest Neighborhoods, allows residents to express their lived experiences of extreme heat through public art. The Heat Response project connects local artists and community leaders with residents of Southeast Philadelphia, Grays Ferry, and Fairhill — areas that have low tree canopies and extreme heat.
PHS will create a work of art called sTREEt Work, which explores the wonder and value of trees and the urban forest. PHS was the recipient of a project grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, which will culminate in a large-scale sculptural work formed by a series of public interactions. Working with renowned art curator Marina McDougall, the Awbury Arboretum, UC Green, and other partners, this project is a transformative step in PHS's mission to partner with residents in low canopy neighborhoods to explore inclusive, equitable, and respectful strategies to secure the benefits of increased tree canopy. The sTREEt Work art installation is scheduled for Spring 2023.
The Knight Foundation awarded PHS a grant of more than $600,000 to be used over three years to partner with neighborhood leaders and organizations to implement the new "Southwest Tree Tenders," a community-centered stewardship program to make Southwest Philadelphia's public spaces more engaging and accessible as residents increase their green spaces and tree canopy. Stay tuned as the next steps for this amazing project unfold, guided by residents’ input and priorities.
As a lead partner for the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation’s new strategic plan, “The Philly Tree Plan,” PHS is actively engaged in supporting this vital ten-year plan to help grow, protect, and care for Philadelphia’s trees. PHS is involved in securing input from our local communities to inform this important plan.
TreeVitalize Watershed Grants fund tree planting along stream corridors, wetlands, adjacent uplands, headwaters, and naturalized stormwater basins to help repair the degradation of these plantings. Led by PHS, dozens of watershed restoration projects take place every year across southeastern Pennsylvania. In total, more than 175,000 trees have been planted in sensitive water protection zones since the program began in 2005, leading to greener, cleaner, more sustainable watershed areas.
These are just a few of the many tree-ful initiatives that PHS currently has underway. Watch for updates on all of these exciting projects, as we garden for the greater good.