Climate change has been an area of growing discussion for many. Leaders from all over the world have gathered in Glasgow for COP26, or the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021. While the gathering itself is an active step in the fight to combat climate change, the meeting concluded with another call for collective action on a global scale.
The Office of Sustainability in West Palm Beach is an organization that sees climate
change as a big problem that requires our attention. Therefore, they have created a lot of different city initiatives to help stop global warming. One initiative they have is to plant 10,000 trees in 10 years. The initiative was expanded after the 2015 goal to increase the canopy of the WPB urban forest. All of this is part of the city’s implementation of the Sustainability Action Plan, which is designed to help it achieve the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goal by 2050.
Elaine Christian, a coordinator at the sustainability program, says that “the program's goal is to protect, expand and sustain West Palm Beach’s urban forest through planting, conversation, and education. The project also wants to encourage people to care about climate change and realize that small things help.”
Christian says that this program is important because “trees provide a
variety of benefits to a community while combating climate change. Since trees produce oxygen and sequester carbon dioxide and other pollutants, they are providing fresh and cleaner air because the trees act as natural air conditioners.”
The program helps to strategically place trees within a landscape to reduce summer
cooling costs by up to 30%. Additionally, Christian says that “the shade provided by trees creates localized cooling effects in which temperatures can be as much as 10 degrees cooler in the shade, as well as the shade helping to combat the heat island effect experienced in the city.”
“Trees also help to slow stormwater runoffs regarding rain, and the tree roots hold soil
in place reducing erosion caused by heavy rains. Finally, trees provide habitat for animals and provide shelter and resources such as food.”, explains Christian.
Today 6,374 trees have been planted, and we only have 4 more years to plant another
3,626 trees. “The Office of Sustainability encourages all residents and businesses that have the space to request trees for their property. Not only will this help the city achieve its goal, but will also benefit the property owners by providing beautification for their location and reducing energy costs.”
The Office of Sustainability also encourages residents and businesses to implement
changes, whether they are small or large modifications to be more sustainable in their daily activities. The office encourages WPB residents to make their voices heard to help create the future they’d like to achieve for their community.
How to plant a tree:
“Trees must be planted on the resident's or businesses' property, not in the public
right-of-way. If you are interested in this, you must fill out an application, where you can fill out which trees you prefer, and be accepted. Then you can pick up a tree at a scheduled event. The program is limited to 4 trees per property per year. The trees are distributed in 3-gallon pots, ready for planting, and instructions to plant and take care of the tree are provided with each tree. All the trees are also native to Florida, so they are acclimated to the climate and require less maintenance than non-native trees would require,” the Office of Sustainability explains.
The next giveaway to plant a tree is on Saturday, December 4 from 10:30 a.m. - 11:30
a.m. at Howard Park Community Center. “As a student, you are always welcome to help volunteer with the tree distribution as well as other activities and events the Office of Sustainability is hosting.”
How to contact the Office of Sustainability:
By Hedda Jarhall