Urban Forest Canopy as a Climate/Health Adaptation

At a Glance:

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Date: 2014

Vital Condition: Thriving Natural World

Determinants of Health: extreme weather, Extreme weather events

Affected Population: Children and Youth, Older Adults, People Living in Poverty, Urban Communities

Research Methods: Quantitative research

Community Types: urban

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The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, developed an Urban and Community Forest Management Plan using a street tree inventory that identifies 42,000 street trees and 8,000 stumps or planting sites. Canopy can reduce urban temperatures by 7 degrees Fahrenheit. More urban canopy cover will be critical as temperatures climb as a result of global warming.

Ann Arbor has data that can assess existing canopy and places where more trees can be planted in areas of the city most vulnerable to extreme heat. Coupling these data with Washtenaw County public health information on the potential health effects of heat exposure, the HIA suggested that the Ann Arbor Urban and Community Forest Management Plan consider highly vulnerable areas for targeted tree planting and recommended that areas be prioritized by population size and neighborhood receptiveness.


The HIA introduced the concept and method of incorporating health considerations into city planning and operations. The extent to which the HIA influenced the final city plan for planting trees remains unclear, given that the city environmental coordinator, who was receptive to the plan, was not the final decision-maker.

This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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