TreePeople: Urban Forestry and Water Harvesting in Los Angeles

Volunteers planting trees. Creative Commons: James Kellog, 2015.

Accelerated investments in climate resilient infrastructure must be made if we hope to mitigate the severe impacts of climate change, population growth, and water insecurity in California. TreePeople has pioneered and popularized the use of trees, water, and soil for “regenerative infrastructure” that delivers tangible climate solutions such as biological carbon sequestration.

TreePeople’s Urban Forestry Initiative focuses on increasing LA’s overall tree canopy and building climate resiliency through tree planting, water catchment, and conservation mapping working with volunteers at the community level.

Regenerative infrastructure includes a robust tree canopy, water sensitive landscapes, rainwater capture and reuse, and abundant access to natural surroundings. The nature-based solutions are cost-effective, increase civic engagement, and improve public quality of life. LDF funding will support the transformation of the LA region into a climate-resilient, water-secure region that works equitably to protect people and the planet.

LDF has supported TreePeople for many years, including one of California’s biggest policy wins for sustainable water management -- Phase 2 of LA StormCatcher Project – part of the Greater LA Water Collaborative, wherein TreePeople is facilitating a working partnership between LA County Flood Control District, LA Dept. of Water and Power, and LA City Bureau of Sanitation. LA StormCatcher Project completed an analysis showing 1.2M or the 1.5M residential parcels in LA County are suitable for rainwater capture.

Next year, the pilot project will scale to as many as 40 home landscapes to model community engagement best practices in residential water conservation. Additionally, K-12 education efforts benefitted 222,000 local student and TP supported the adoption of the new Science Curriculum Framework with the State Board of Education.

TreePeople is also leading on the Urban Cooling Collaborative. The three hottest years on record were 2014, 2015 and 2016 – and there is no indication the trend will subside. Extreme urban heat is already killing people today and is the #1 weather-related cause of death in the US, killing more people annually than all other weather-related causes combined. We are losing precious tree canopy cover from pest infestation and drought impacts – just when we need it most.

TreePeople inspires and supports the people of LA to come together to plant and care for trees, harvest the rain, and renew depleted landscapes. They unite with communities to grow a greener, shadier and more water-secure city at homes, neighborhoods, schools and in the local mountains. Their strategic vision, to be realized over the next ten years, is to build climate-resilience for Los Angeles, increasing tree canopy to an equitable 25% and to create a water supply that is at least 50% locally sourced.

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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