In 2022, Speak for the Trees Boston (SFTT) planted 63 trees at Harambee and Fitzgerald Parks in Boston, MA, in partnership with American Forests, the Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services, and the City of Boston. The trees will shade high-use walking paths, beautify vital community gathering spaces, and improve air quality and overall community wellbeing. The project was funded with the generous support of Bank of America and Salesforce.
The parks are located in the historically underserved neighborhoods of Dorchester, Mission Hill, and Mattapan. More than half of residents, majority of whom are people of color, live in poverty, with higher rates of asthma and heart disease and greater pre-mature mortality than the citywide average. The two parks border the busy roadways of Blue Hill and Huntington Avenues, and their crisscrossed walking paths are used by many commuters on their way to bus stops or nearby facilities. Harambee Park in particular is a key community hub, adjacent to schools, community centers, public housing, and other recreational and community facilities.
Through SFTT’s extensive public outreach, the community came together for planting day, with local leaders, schools, community-based organizations, and local businesses fostering connections with each other and with the trees. The diverse palette of trees planted not only helped Fitzgerald Park achieve its goal status of official Arboretum, it also creates an urban forest more resilient to climate stress. This diversity, paired with SFTT’s long-term maintenance plan, will ensure the community reaps the promised health and equity benefits of the trees – buffering the Huntington and Blue Hill Avenues roadway traffic pollution, providing shade to encourage outdoor recreation, improving the commuter experience, and enhancing public gathering places to increase social resilience.
Check out a snapshot of the project: Impact Report Summary
Every tree planting project demonstrates impacts that create a more just and sustainable future.
Urban Heat - 12
Active Living - 8
Wellness & Mental Health - 10
Social Health - 3
Site Selection - 5
Community Engagement in Design - 9
Community Participation in Implementation - 4
Economic Equity - 3
Climate Action - 11
Water Quality & Quantity - 8
Habitat, Food & Wood Production - 2
Bioremediation - 0
The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs are a global call for action. These goals have the power to build a better future for everyone. Investment in this impact project drives action towards the following goals.
Harambee and Fitzgerald Parks border two of the busiest roads in Boston, while the neighborhoods surrounding these parks have greater rates of asthma, chronic heart disease, and depression. Trees planted will improve air quality , encourage recreation, and promote wellbeing.
At Harambee Park, black tupelo trees were planted along a wetland to improve rainfall management and mitigate flooding. At Fitzgerald Park, trees were planted on slopes to stabilize soils and prevent erosion.
Trees and planting day supplies were all purchased locally, supporting local economic resilience. Lunch and refreshments were purchased from a culturally relevant, beloved local restaurant. The City of Boston’s new green workforce training group, Power Corps, also trained volunteers the event.
The communities of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Mission Hill neighborhoods have been historically marginalized and underinvested in. The project aimed to increase equitable access to greenspace in these areas, with all the social and health equity benefits these new trees will provide.
SFTT partnered and engaged with local leaders, local businesses, community based organizations, and nearby facilities to promote the tree planting event.
Trees lower cooling costs by reducing regional air temperatures and providing shade. Trees were strategically planted at high-use walking paths and around the Boys and Girls Club parking lot to provide optimum shade and wind protection.
Tree species were selected to be suitable for the current and predicted climate of the region, per the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science guidelines. These 63 project trees will store a projected 43 tons of CO2 if maintained for 25 years. Trees planted will also improve air quality, promote stormwater capture, and reduce heating and cooling costs.
Urban forests with greater biodiversity are also more resilient to climate-related shocks and pests. The trees planted represented a diverse palette of nine species at each park, helping Fitzgerald Park achieve its goal of official Arboretum status.
Partnerships were a key part of this work. In addition to working with American Forests, SFTT partnered with community-based nonprofit Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services, Northeastern University’s Arboretum Program and the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department.
Explore More Impact Projects
Growing Canopy & Community in South Providence
Trees for people in South Providence
Pawtucket and Central Falls, RI
Trees 4 Us - A Pawtucket Central Falls Green Equity Initiative
Trees for climate resilience and public health
Tons of Trees Initiative
Improving tree equity for residents