The Greening of Detroit, in partnership with American Forests, Salesforce, Zyrtec, and Bank of America, planted 240 trees at the Kemeny Park and Recreation Center in zip code 48217 of Detroit, MI in 2022. The goal of the project was to reduce health disparities and improve air quality for the community.
The burden of respiratory illness in Detroit is severe and worsening. The current asthma rate among Detroit adults is 46% higher than Michigan as a whole and there is a significant difference between the childhood asthma rate in Detroit compared to the rest of the state (14.6% and 8.4% respectively) – a difference that did not exist in 2016. Residents of Detroit’s zip code 48217 are particularly vulnerable, with the median family income just half the statewide average and over half of children living in poverty.
Kemeny Park and Recreation Center is an important community center located just South of the I-75 freeway adjacent to heavy industry and refinery operations. Corporate and community volunteers participated to plant trees around the neighborhood and recreation center. These trees will filter air pollutants and improve air quality to promote community health and wellbeing.
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 - 9
Social Health - 5
Site Selection - 9
Community Engagement in Design - 6
Community Participation in Implementation - 5
Economic Equity - 0
Climate Action - 11
Water Quality & Quantity - 4
Habitat, Food & Wood Production - 3
Bioremediation - 1
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.
Trees planted will buffer homes, a local park, school, and church grounds from air pollutants emanating from adjacent highways and heavy industry, while also increasing shade and promoting recreation.
Urban tree cover can increase groundwater recharge, promote the infiltration of water in soils, and decrease stormwater runoff. Each tree was surrounded by a berm and then mulched to improve water infiltration.
Within the project area, 20% of residents are unemployed and 48% of the residents live below the poverty line, resulting in low adaptive capacity to air quality impacts. The trees planted within the planting area will improve this climate-vulnerable populations’ resiliency to poor air quality and extreme heat conditions.
By enhancing the park’s Recreation Center, walking paths and playfields, as well as the schoolyard and church community garden, trees planted enhance community greenspaces and promote recreation. The Greening of Detroit engaged community members to join for the planting day volunteering events as well as the ongoing stewardship of the trees.
Trees lower cooling costs by reducing regional air temperatures and providing shade. Trees were strategically planted throughout Kemeny park, along residential streets, and at school and church grounds to provide optimum shade and wind protection.
Trees are able to reduce ozone, nitric oxides, and particulate matter. Urban forests reduce pollutants through dry deposition on surfaces and uptake of pollutants into leaf stomata. When project trees reach 25 years old, they will reduce 0.06 tons of O3, 0.02 tons of NOx, and 0.03 tons of PM10 per year, with avoided cost of $1,337 per year.
The more diverse the urban forest, the more resilient it will be to climate-related shocks and other types of disturbance. For this project, 18 tree species were planted, increasing the functional diversity of Detroit’s urban forest and the availability of different kinds of habitat and food sources for birds, pollinators, and urban wildlife.
Greening of Detroit engaged multiple local partners throughout this project, from neighborhood community spaces such as the Kemeny Recreation Center, Mark Twain School for Scholars, and Southwestern Church of God for planting site selection, to community and corporate volunteers during planting day. The Greening of Detroit also worked closely with national nonprofit American Forests.