South Seattle, with a heavy concentration of industry and people of color who on average earn less than residents in other parts of the city, also features some of the sparsest tree canopy in Seattle, according to a city study. That matters to residents’ health, a growing body of evidence suggests.
When Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson set out to pass a long-stalled strengthening of Seattle’s tree-protection ordinance, fans of the urban forest called it wonderful news. They said his move last fall was far overdue considering how Seattle’s development boom is reducing the leafy canopy that gave “The Emerald City” its nickname. But when Johnson aides recently released their third suggestion this year for how to update the city law, the pro-trees people said that despite Johnson’s claims to the contrary, the changes would be unlikely to save more trees. In addition, they say, Johnson’s proposal appears to remove important existing protections for big trees, which studies show shade and cool streets while helping neutralize air and water pollution and reduce residents’ stress levels while improving cardiovascular health. “This is going backwards.
Long-stalled efforts to better protect Seattle’s tree canopy got a boost from a recent executive order by the mayor, and a key city council member says he will try to pass a stronger tree protection ordinance by next spring.