Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area AMEX Planting

Project Profile

Project Location

Phoenix, AZ

Project Lead

Arizona Sustainability Alliance


American Express



Arizona Sustainability Alliance, in partnership with American Forests and American Express, planted 45 trees at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area in Phoenix, AZ on February 16, 2023. The objectives of this planting were to increase canopy cover at a local park, providing health and recreation benefits for the community.

Phoenix is among the fastest warming cities in the country. AZSA worked closely with the City of Phoenix and leveraged American Forests’ Tree Equity Score tool to identify areas of the city with low tree canopy and high heat and socioeconomic vulnerability. Formerly a dump site, the park currently has a Tree Equity Score of 56 and was selected as a planting site of high impact to the community.

The 25 Desert Willow and 20 Blue Palo Verde trees were planted by thirty Phoenix-based American Express volunteers along a multipurpose recreation path. By adding these 45 trees, the project will enhance the park’s shade canopy, mitigating the metropolitan heat island effects and offering thermal refuge for future generations of community members to enjoy walks and bike rides through the park in comfort.

Check out a snapshot of the project: Impact Report Summary

Every tree planting project demonstrates impacts that create a more just and sustainable future.

Human Health

Air Quality - 8
Urban Heat - 12
Active Living - 4
Wellness & Mental Health - 7
Social Health - 5

Social Equity

Inequity Context - 12
Site Selection - 9
Community Engagement in Design - 1
Community Participation in Implementation - 5
Economic Equity - 7


Site Prep & Implementation - 17
Climate Action - 9
Water Quality & Quantity - 10
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.

Good Health and Well Being

Trees planted along the park’s walking paths will improve air quality, absorb toxins, shade and beautify walking paths, and encourage residents to spend more time outdoors.

Clean Water and Sanitation

Urban tree cover can increase groundwater recharge, promote the infiltration of water in soils, and decrease stormwater runoff. Both Desert Willow and Blue Palo Verde are native to the area and have a root system that can naturally de-compact and improve local soil quality and health.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

The planting volunteer event provided an opportunity for Tiger Mountain Foundation, a grassroots workforce development program, to  gain support for their work.

Reduce Inequalities

The Rio Salado is a restored dumpsite in a heavily industrialized area. The project enhances a public greenspace in a low-income community.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Trees planted will filter air pollution and improve soil ecology and water quality.

Responsible Production and Consumption

Trees were purchased from a local nursery to reduce purchasing footprint. Tools were rented from the Phoenix Community Toolbank.

Climate Action

Tree species planted are desert-adapted and drought-tolerant. These 45 project trees will store a projected 29 tons of CO2 if maintained for 25 years.

Life on Land

The project restores riparian and wetland habitat in the Salt River watershed.

Partnerships for Goals

This project featured partnerships between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including the City of Phoenix, AMEX, American Forests, Audubon Center, and Tiger Mountain Foundation.

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