Healthy Trees, Healthy Communities

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Canopy’s Impact in 2018

It takes a village to grow the urban forest

This year, Canopy volunteers, board members, partners, and friends united to expand our tree plantings, to bring nature education to new schools, and to engage more youth as Teen Urban Foresters. We advocated more vigorously than ever to remedy local inequities in tree canopy cover and support nature-filled neighborhoods.

But we face challenges. Clearly the forces of urbanization and densification are intensifying in our region. Meanwhile the threat of climate change seems more urgent than ever.

In the face of these challenges, how can we create healthy, livable cities, with adequate housing and transportation, and neighborhoods where people and nature flourish?

Canopy’s answer is to mobilize our communities to grow and care for resilient urban forests.

Together we plant trees that combat climate change and its effects. We prepare the next generation of nature stewards. And we strengthen the social fabric of our cities by bringing neighbors together.

We invite to you read on and explore the various ways your support and participation make our work possible. Know that we are grateful to count you as an active member of our village.

Read more of what you made possible in Canopy’s 2018 Impact Report (PDF).


Canopy Impact Report 2018

What you made possible:

Growing trees where people need them the most

Luis Guzman, East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica, and Romain Tanière

Luis Guzman, East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica, and Romain Tanière at the Kavanaugh Neighborhood Tree Planting and Community Fair.

“When you drive through nearby communities, the difference is actually striking in terms of the urban forest with East Palo Alto,” shares Tree Champion Romain Tanière, “We heard about Canopy and decided to contact them to bring more nature into the Kavanaugh neighborhood.”

Engaging and equipping local tree champions like Romain is Canopy’s top priority when bringing trees to a neighborhood.

Romain and his partner Luis Guzman worked with Canopy to canvas their neighborhood to build the buy-in and support needed for two successful plantings.

“At the tree plantings we saw how all the volunteers from other communities and people from the neighborhoods came together— that’s really special—especially when young children are participating.”

“We knew it was a success when neighbors who saw what was being done wanted to take that to their own neighborhoods which are also lacking greenery.”

Connecting youth with nature

Student enjoying her time in a tree

Mountain View student enjoying her time in a tree after attending a Wellness Walk.

It’s proven science: a walk in the woods or even strolling down a tree-lined street does wonders for your mind and your mood.

This is part of the message Canopy brings to Mountain View and Palo Alto high school students during our new school campus Wellness Tree Walks.

“I found it very relaxing to be able to walk around and embrace nature without stressing about anything,” shares one student. “I also felt like I was able to really connect with nature in a way I hadn’t before.”

The Wellness Tree Walks provide students with the opportunity to develop their connection to the natural world, while enhancing their health and wellbeing.

Another student shares, “the walk was one of the unforgettable moments I had over the summer because it allowed me to refresh my brain and stay out of my electronic devices.”

Since the program launched in fall 2017, over 954 students have taken a Wellness Walk to reconnect with nature and enjoy the benefits of trees on their school campuses.

Investing in the next generation of environmental leaders

Teen Urban Foresters graduation

Every year for the Teen Urban Foresters graduation, Education Manager Natalie Brubaker and Urban Forester Intern Jack Dorsey (in yellow) take them on a celebratory hike; this year they visited Foothills Park in Palo Alto.

Canopy’s high school interns play an increasingly active role in growing the urban forest in their own East Palo Alto neighborhoods.

Canopy’s two programs—Teen Urban Foresters (TUF) and Oxford Day Academy Service Learning—train and equip high school students to steward trees, lead volunteers, and facilitate lessons with younger students.

Eric Perez, TUF since 2015, shares “my focus now isn’t just on getting trees planted; it’s to help the community grow closer during the plantings and see bonds form that weren’t previously there.

“As a culture, we tend to think of trees as a luxury, but I think we definitely need to work on seeing them as more of a right, as something that people need.”

A similar sentiment was shared by TUF Rayshaun Jordan, “I am now taking it upon myself to educate adults who come to plantings about the benefits of trees, because I have personally seen the benefits they can have on small communities of color that often do not have the resources to beautify their cities.”

Engaging communities in citizen science

Great Oak Count volunteers surveying native oaks

Great Oak Count volunteers surveying native oaks in Palo Alto.

Launched as an update to Canopy’s 2002 Oakwell survey, the Great Oak Count is a citizen science effort to map changes in native oak populations over the last two decades.

“As we go to find these oaks again and record how big they are and how they’re doing, we’re able to answer top of mind science questions about how our urban forests are changing,” reports Elise Willis, Community Forestry Program Manager.

Mobile devices are now used to collect data on Tree Plotter, Canopy’s new custom online map.

We first started using it for the Great Oak Count and had a very successful pilot surveying 511 native oaks in Palo Alto.

One of the first research organizations to use Canopy’s survey data is the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI). In 2017 they released their seminal report, “Re-Oaking Silicon Valley: Building Vibrant Cities with Nature,” on the local oak ecosystem. The report investigates how native oaks support local ecosystems and contribute to ecological resilience in the face of climate change.

Map your tree at home with Tree Plotter!

Advocating for a resilient future

California ReLeaf Network “Advocacy Day”

Board Member Geoff Paulsen (second from right) and Executive Director Catherine Martineau (third from right) joined the California ReLeaf Network “Advocacy Day” in Sacramento and met with Assemblymember, Mark Berman.

As a Canopy supporter, you’re part of our community’s voice for the urban forest and for environmental justice. Your partnership fuels advocacy efforts with long-lasting impact.

Local level

  • Prevented widespread cuts to the Palo Alto urban forestry budget and advocated for the strengthening of tree protections through the process of updating Palo Alto’s Tree Protection Ordinance and Tree and Landscape Technical Manual.
  • Successfully advocated for new and robust tree protection policy in East Palo Alto as part of the review of the City’s new Development Code.
  • Assisted the City of East Palo Alto in applying and obtaining a $280,000 state grant to create the City’s first Urban Forest Master Plan and hire a part-time Urban Forester. Obtained additional state funding to plant more trees in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City and North Fair Oaks.
  • Secured a seat on the council-appointed Menlo Park Heritage Tree Ordinance Update Task Force.

Regional level

  • As an active participant in the San Mateo County’s Tree Ordinance Update Steering Committee shaped and strengthened tree protection policies.
  • Planned and co-hosted Santa Clara County’s “Urban Forestry for People in a Hurry” summit to engage planners, decision makers, and stakeholders in urban forestry hot topics and provide them with practical tools for strengthening their cities’ tree programs.

State level

  • Participated in California ReLeaf’s first ever Advocacy Day in Sacramento to secure critical state funding for urban forestry, urban greening, and other natural resources programs.

Join us 2019 and beyond

Junior Foresters with their newly planted tree

Canopy’s after-school program, Junior Foresters, led by the Teen Urban Forester youth staff, celebrating their newly planted young tree.

Canopy’s Community Forestry School

This summer, Canopy launched its very first Community Forestry School! The five-month series dives into the fundamentals of urban forestry and teaches participants how they can bring the benefits of trees to their local communities. Each workshop includes an in-depth session on key topics in urban forestry and concludes with optional trainings to equip participants with the skills to work side by side with Canopy to remedy local inequities in tree canopy cover and access to urban nature.

Redwood City tree planting initiative

Canopy continues to expand its impact on local urban forests with a new partnership with the Redwood City School District. The expansion into Redwood City schools will contribute to a greener and more nature-filled environment. As with Canopy’s tree plantings at schools in East Palo Alto and Mountain View, bringing canopy cover to schools is critical for the overall physical and mental health, and wellbeing of their students.

Urban forest master plan for East Palo Alto

In 2019, the City of East Palo Alto will begin the process to create its very own Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP). Canopy was integral to securing funding from CAL Fire that will equip the city with the necessary tools to manage and expand its urban forest. The first step in the process will be a city-wide tree canopy assessment and analysis to identify target planting areas for optimum ecosystem benefits. This will be followed by the creation of a 40 year master plan that will identify strategies to achieve tree canopy cover goals and grow a healthy urban environment for the benefit of the entire community.

And planting our 5,000th tree!

This year, we are incredibly excited for the momentous occasion of planting our 5,000th tree! Over the next planting season we have an ambitious goal to plant 217 trees in East Palo Alto and Redwood City, 100 trees in south Palo Alto, 30 trees at Mountain View schools, and 150 fruit trees. We hope you will join us this season to help plant and grow a thriving urban forest for generations to enjoy

Want to be part of the village of Canopy volunteers and friends growing the local urban forest? Check out ways to get involved or contact Canopy at [email protected] or 650-964-6110.

Canopy by the numbers

Canopy by the numbers 2018

Canopy Map 2018

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“I was so impressed with the young Canopy volunteers. It is heartening to witness such a can-do attitude among our youth, and Canopy provides a wonderful platform on which skills and appreciation of nature can be built and grown.”

– Stephanie Enos, Canopy Volunteer

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