City Hall building in Palo Alto

Advocacy

Canopy is an advocate for urban forests in Midpeninsula communities

Growing the local urban forest involves more than tree planting and regular tree care. Advocacy is an important component of Canopy’s efforts to preserve and plant urban trees. Through advocacy at various jurisdiction levels, Canopy steps up to help partners adopt tree-friendly policies and practices, and ensure adequate funding for tree programs.

Canopy provides advice and expertise to staff and elected officials of counties, cities, and school districts. Our advocacy efforts aim to strengthen ordinances and plans that affect trees. Canopy emphasizes the importance of protecting existing trees and selecting climate-appropriate, site-appropriate new trees.  

Canopy’s mission is to grow urban tree canopy in Midpeninsula communities for the benefit of all. Our advocacy program helps us achieve this mission at scale.

Midpeninsula urban forests face compounded threats

  • Our urban forests face threats of development, budgetary pressures, and global climate change.
  • Urban deforestation is on the rise. Development of vacant land and redevelopment of commercial and residential sites leads to loss of mature trees and loss of planting sites for new trees.
  • Budgetary pressures often mean that dying trees in public spaces are removed but not replaced at the same rate. Tree pruning and other maintenance is deferred at the expense of tree health.
  • Climate change is already affecting our urban and natural forests. Some of our most common trees will not perform well or not survive at all.

Midpeninsula communities face disparities in tree canopy cover

  • While some areas of the Midpeninsula have abundant and mature urban tree canopies, others lack both tree canopy and access to green space.
  • This creates a “green gap” between affluent and less affluent neighborhoods. Viewed from space, the difference between residential neighborhoods, parks, and school yards around the Midpeninsula is striking. 
  • A lack of trees in urban areas widens social inequalities and harms public health, ecosystem health, and community well-being.

Canopy advocates for greener, healthier, more equitable communities

  • Canopy serves as an independent ‘watchdog’ for urban forests.
  • Trees are the greatest natural resource in Midpeninsula communities. Canopy educates elected officials, city staff, community leaders, and residents on the importance of maintaining a strong urban forestry program to preserve and expand this precious resource.
  • Canopy engages with local governments as they adopt and revise tree protection ordinances, urban forest master plans, and climate action plans–advocating for maintenance and preservation of existing trees, planting of climate-appropriate, site-appropriate new trees, and sustainable urban forestry funding.
  • In development projects, Canopy works to ensure that existing trees are protected and projects are designed with nature in mind, where trees are not just an after-thought.  
  • Canopy educates decision-makers, professionals, and residents on ways to conserve water while preserving trees: trees are worth their water.
  • Canopy’s advocacy efforts are guided by our vision of a day when every resident of the Midpeninsula can step outside to walk, play, and thrive under the shade of healthy trees.

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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