Houston Celebrates Texas Arbor Day By Planting 1,000 Trees Along Greens Bayou on Harris County Lands Between Two Houston Parks
November 5, 2021 -- As the world embarked this week on actions to address climate change during the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the City of Houston, in partnership with many other local and regional partners including Harris County and the Tree Strategy Implementation Group (TSIG) facilitated by Houston Wilderness planted 1,000 native trees today as part of the unveiling of a new Houston weblink called 4.6 M Trees Scoreboard. This Scoreboard is the result of the work completed by the City of Houston and the TSIG members to help reach the Resilient Houston and Houston Climate Action Plan target of planting 4.6 million native trees by 2030.
Mayor Sylvester Turner explained that “We all know the difference one tree can make on a hot day in Houston, and if the challenges faced by climate change are left unaddressed, we can certainly expect more days over 100° in this City. With a target of planting 4.6 million trees by 2030, I am thankful to our partners for their commitment to this initiative. Together we are making a significant step towards prioritizing meaningful climate action for Houston’s resilient future.”
"Our goal of planting 4.6 million new native trees is the equivalent of two new trees for every Houstonian," remarked Councilmember David Robinson. "As a resilient and sustainable city, we need to plant the seeds today for future generations to fully reap the benefits."
Representatives from the City of Houston, Harris County Precinct Two, Harris County Flood Control District, Houston Wilderness, other TSIG members and approximately 100 volunteer tree-planters from Shell Oil, SBM Offshore, Bank of Texas, Lionstone Investments, University of Houston’s Hispanic Business Association, University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Environmental Justice Association and other interested Houstonians participated in the event commemorating Texas Arbor Day along Greens Bayou near Crooker/Moody Park.
“Planting new, native trees is one of the major targets of the Resilient Houston, our city-wide strategy to help make Houston more resilient. Not only are trees a natural carbon sink helping to reduce greenhouse gas emission and improve air quality, but also they help mitigate the urban heat island effect, and are an integral part of making our neighborhoods and communities healthier,” explained Priya Zachariah, Chief Resilience and Sustainability Officer for the City of Houston.
“Native trees are an extremely important part of the natural infrastructure of Houston and their presence or absence plays a significant role in impacting our quality of life,” said Kelli Ondracek, Natural Resources Manager, Houston Parks and Recreation Department. “We encourage all residents and businesses in Houston to participate in tree planting events and to submit their own tree plantings to the new 4.6M Trees Scoreboard to help us track planting efforts across the City”.
The Houston Climate Action Plan focuses on how the City’s tree planting goal will help restore, protect and enhance our natural ability to capture and store carbon to help mitigate climate change. The area selected for these 1,000 trees includes communities that experience very high rates of flooding and other health risks.
“It may seem simple, but planting trees absolutely has a positive impact on the health and well-being of communities, especially communities with high rates of respiratory health conditions,” said Dr. Loren Hopkins, chief environmental science officer for the Houston Health Department. “Air pollutants absorbed by trees include nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter, all pollutants associated with increased risk of cardiac arrest and asthma attacks in Houston.
“Planting 4.6 million new native trees in 10 years will need every Houstonian to play a role, and some local leaders have volunteered to begin coordinating implementation of this ambitious target with public and private partners. In 2019-2020, the region planted 712,000 new native trees, and this year looks like we will again meet our annual goal of 400,000 new native trees planted around the region,” said Deborah January-Bevers, President of Houston Wilderness.
The Arbor Day tree planting was coordinated under the multi-partner Port of Houston TREES Program, and the Regional River & Waterways Targeted Use of Buyouts (TUBS) Program facilitated by Houston Wilderness and the Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas.