World Resource Institute

Seattle, United States

Seattle’s Urban Forest Management Plan seeks to include residents and promote equity.

“Trees are fundamental to the character of Seattle — a city that celebrates its reputation as one of the United States’ greenest cities, and to our quality of life, especially as our city continues to grow. We are aware of the inequitable distribution of our urban tree canopy where communities of color with lower canopy cover bear disproportionate impacts caused by air pollution. That’s why we undertook a robust inclusive engagement effort to include our communities of color’s perspective as key stakeholders as part of our Urban Forest Management Plan update. Protecting our forests, urban, regional and worldwide is a key action to fight climate change.”

Michelle Caulfield, Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment, Interim Director, Seattle, United States

Success Story

Seattle’s Equity and Environment Initiative recognizes the disproportionate impact of past policies and practices on communities of color, and strives to ensure that the city provides clean, healthy, resilient and safe environments for communities of color, immigrants, Indigenous peoples, refugees, people with low incomes, youth and individuals with limited English proficiency. The Equity and Environment Initiative also influenced Seattle’s engagement with its residents regarding the Urban Forest Management Plan. Prior to the plan’s development, the City’s Urban Forestry Core Team worked with Seattle Public Utilities’ Community Connections program and the Department of Neighborhood’s Community Liaisons program to engage Indigenous peoples, as well as the African American, East African, Chinese and Latinx communities living in and around the Greater Seattle region. Traditional stakeholder engagement was conducted through the Trees for Seattle newsletter, website and social media channels; presentations to key groups such as the Urban Forestry Commission; and listening sessions with key partner organizations.

Feedback received through these efforts was used to produce a draft plan. Input received informed action agenda priorities and shaped the plan’s impact. As a result, over 25,900 volunteer hours were logged caring for Seattle’s urban forest, including 1,902 new trees planted throughout Seattle by City departments,12,500 native tree seedlings planted in Seattle’s forested parklands, 8,717 trees maintained to keep them healthy and growing, 1,845 acres of forested parklands underwent restoration to remove invasive plants, 356 new acres of invasive plants removed from Seattle’s forested parklands, 6,121 trees inventoried to better manage urban forests and over 380 miles of trees trimmed for safety and to enhance the reliability of the power grid.

City image by Luca Micheli / Unsplash