Parks and their associated trees are important to both public and planetary health. Park design, however, is usually planned from an economic perspective, e.g., mowing up to a stream’s edge as opposed to maintaining a riparian buffer. Park design should be directed to achieve specific goals, such as mitigation of heat, climate, and stormwater runoff; provision of green spaces that are beneficial to pollinating insects and other wildlife; and accessibility to all demographics.
In support of these goals, SAC Vice-Chair Melanie Vile, an assistant professor in West Chester University’s Environmental Health program, recruited three students from her Global Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability courses to conduct a survey of tree canopy cover—the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above—and a cost-benefit analysis to help guide future improvements to all 14 parks.
Forestry experts recommend at least 30% tree canopy cover, and ours ranged from 4.1% at the Dog Park to 51% at Barker Park, with all but one park either at or below the recommended 30% coverage. This data will help West Goshen to target areas that need tree planting, such as the Dog Park (pooches need shade too!) with the goal of creating a healthier environment, and hence a healthier community. A full report that will be accessible to the public is forthcoming.
For a cool graphic displaying the many benefits of trees, click HERE.