Green Cities Partnership Program

Program Supports Healthy Urban Forests
Posted on 10/24/2018

The City of Burien is joining the cities of SeaTac, Des Moines, and nine other cities around Puget Sound in the Green City Partnerships Program, a collaboration between regional sustainability group Forterra and city governments, community organizations, and city residents. The program encourages active care for trees in forested parks, natural areas, neighborhoods, and other spaces throughout the region. The goal of the program is to connect more than 9,000 thriving acres of forest from Everett to Tacoma.

Forterra is inviting input from Burien residents on what places to prioritize for early attention and how individuals, families, and groups hope to get involved. Childcare, food, and interpretation will be provided at events.

Community members unable to attend an open house can complete a short online survey by November 7, 2018.

Burien Open House

Wednesday, November 7, 6–8 p.m.

Burien Library, 1st Floor Community Meeting Room

400 SW 152nd, Burien, WA 98166

Why Urban Trees Matter

A large body of scientific and economic research documents the many benefits of urban trees, including:

  • Filtering up to a third of fine particle pollutants within 300 yards of a tree.
  • Reducing rates of asthma, cardiac disease, and strokes due to improved air quality.
  • Cooling city streets by two to four degrees, reducing deaths from heat and cutting energy use.
  • Protecting biodiversity, including habitat for migrating birds and pollinators.
  • Reducing obesity levels by increasing physical activity, including walking and cycling.
  • Managing stormwater, reducing urban flooding, and keeping pollutants out of waterways, including Puget Sound (and its threatened orcas).
  • Increasing neighborhood property values.
  • Reducing stress by buffering noise and bolstering mental wellbeing.

Despite their importance, urban trees are disappearing. According to the U.S. Forest Service, scientists have found that metropolitan areas in the U.S. are losing about 36 million trees a year. In Washington state, the loss between 2009 and 2014 is estimated at 3,350 acres. Development is playing a part, but so too are temperature increases and drought brought on by climate change. Healthy urban trees across the U.S. store an estimated 708 million tons of carbon, or roughly 13 percent of the country’s annual CO2 emissions.

About the Green Cities Program

Expansion of the Green Cities Program to Burien, SeaTac, and Des Moines is made possible by multi-year funding from the Port of Seattle and its Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund. Forterra is organizing the start-up of the new Green City Partnerships. The nonprofit organization has completed a preliminary assessment of the extent of the tree canopy in the cities, along with other land covers such as shrubs, grass, and impervious surfaces. Of particular interest is how these coverings match to places with residences, schools, and community centers.