On a Warming Planet, Urban Trees Become Critical Infrastructure

Urban tree planting

On a Warming Planet, Urban Trees Become Critical Infrastructure

As heat waves turn cities into sweltering ovens, tree shade has become a critical tool to mitigate climate change—and Yale is working to promote a healthy tree canopy on campus and around New Haven.

Urban trees provide a host of benefits that blunt the effects of climate change, and they are increasingly being treated as important infrastructure for cities. Trees sequester carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, reduce stormwater runoff by utilizing water before it’s channeled into a drainage system, and capture pollution particulates—especially ozone—through their leaves or needles.

And they provide shade—which can significantly lower temperatures in a city neighborhood.

In 2020, Yale completed its first Tree Management Plan with an eye toward sustaining a healthy urban tree canopy that can withstand the pressures of a changing environment. The plan provided the university with its first complete inventory of every tree on campus larger than 8 inches in diameter, and established guidelines for everything from pest management to protecting root systems during construction projects.

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