City Hall building in Palo Alto


Canopy is the community advocate for Palo Alto’s urban forest

Growing the local urban forest involves more than tree planting and regular tree care.  Advocacy is an important component of Canopy’s efforts to maintain Palo Alto’s trees.

Canopy brings awareness of the environmental, social and economic benefits of the urban forest. Canopy also informs the city on how civic projects impact existing public trees, and communicates the importance of selecting climate-appropriate, site-appropriate new trees.

Canopy provides advice and expertise to city and school district staff and elected officials. Our outreach efforts inform the community of upcoming educational projects and meetings, and the various ways they can get involved as advocates or volunteers.

The Palo Alto urban forest is aging and faces compounded threats

  • Palo Alto’s abundant and mature canopy provides substantial health, environmental, social and economic benefits, but is often taken for granted.
  • Our urban forest faces the compounded threats of city budgetary pressures, global climate change and landscape water conservation measures.
  • Many of the city’s street trees are reaching the end of their lifespan or are suffering from drought conditions. Dying trees are removed, but are not replaced at the same rate.

Canopy advises the City of Palo Alto, ensuring that the forest is renewed sustainably

  • Canopy serves as an independent ‘watchdog’ for the urban forest.
  • Canopy educates elected officials, city staff, community leaders and residents on the importance of maintaining a strong urban forestry program to preserve one of our most precious assets.
  • Canopy advises the city on the development of the new Urban Forest Master Plan. This comprehensive framework will heighten the understanding of the value of the forest, provide the tools to manage it efficiently and successfully, and transition gradually from thirsty to drought tolerant species.
  • The City turned to Canopy to create a climate-appropriate tree planting design with the input of the community, and to organize a successful volunteer planting to reforest California Avenue.
  • Canopy is launching a campaign to educate decision-makers, professionals and residents on ways to conserve water while preserving trees, the most valuable element of our green infrastructure.
  • Canopy was instrumental in leveraging two grants from Cal Fire to the City of Palo Alto to implement a comprehensive street-tree inventory and an innovative management plan.

Canopy actively supports preservation and planting of Palo Alto Unified School District trees

  • Canopy is part of the Sustainable Schools Committee and facilitated a subcommittee to develop and gain approval for a School Tree Policy at PAUSD. This was one of the first School Tree Policies in the United States, and is coupled with a very rigorous Tree Protection Plan for Palo Alto’s 17 campuses!
  • Canopy is on the Landscape Subcommittees for Palo Alto and Gunn High Schools and provides advice about their Landscape Master Plans.
  • Canopy consults with the district and provides a community perspective regarding trees and new construction projects at elementary, middle and high schools.
  • Canopy writes grants and creates projects that bring funding, volunteer power, tree care, supplies and hundreds of new trees to the district.
  • Canopy taps into its network of local experts, providing community advice about mature and native tree preservation, as well as tree selection and placement.
  • Canopy designs school plantings for the district to shade play areas, campus buildings and other key areas, making schools more beautiful, sustainable and livable for students, faculty and staff.

Canopy leverages its efforts

Canopy also leverages its efforts by joining with regional and national urban forestry organizations, such as Alliance for Community Trees, California ReLeaf and the California Urban Forests Council, to advocate for increased state and federal funding for urban forestry programs.

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“Canopy’s strength is really in building relationships–not just with the city and residents of Palo Alto, but also with other urban forestry groups in the state and with the greater community.”

~ Martha Ozonoff,
Executive Director,
California ReLeaf

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