Improving Tree Equity in the City of Boston: Finding Space for New Trees

Project Partner: Speak for the Trees, Boston, Summer 2020

Project Summary: Urban trees provide numerous environmental and health benefits to residents. In Boston, as in many urban areas throughout the world, tree canopy is unequally distributed, yielding inequitable access to the benefits of trees. In this project, PhD candidate Raquel Jimenez integrated remote sensing, land cover, and administrative data to identify parcels in Boston where new trees could be planted. Her analysis took into account available planting space at the parcel-level, existing tree canopy, and neighborhood-level environmental and sociodemographic characteristics. These data were systematized in an interactive and publicly available web-based mapping platform to support the mission of Speak for the Trees, Boston of improving tree equity in the city of Boston. This project allows the organization to increase its outreach and education efforts as well as target specific parcels in tree-planting initiatives that both increase tree canopy and reduce racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in access to benefits from urban trees.

Project Deliverables: Exploring tree equity in Boston: A Map Series about trees and people ( Also see the Twitter campaign celebrating Raquel’s work by searching #TreeEquityBoston.

A portion of Raquel’s Map Series focused on opportunities for tree plantings at the parcel level.
Six of Raquel’s maps, displaying the distribution tree canopy cover and other environmental and sociodemographic characteristics in Boston. Darker colors indicate higher levels of each mapped attribute. For example, in the top left map, darker green signifies greater tree canopy cover.