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Hastings Environmental Law Journal

Abstract

This paper discusses the planting of trees in areas where tree canopy is lacking as both mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change. I argue that cities must prioritize planting trees in low-income neighborhoods as a form of mitigation from extreme heat because those areas tend to be hotter than wealthier areas of the same city. The shade provided by trees will cool the area and reduce health impacts and mortality during extreme heat events. Section I discusses the urban heat island effect and how redlining is directly connected to low tree canopy. Section II highlights initiatives cities have taken to increase their tree canopy and indicate where they fall short. Finally, Section III provides different models cities can emulate to require tree planting and incentives cities can provide to developers and owners of apartment buildings in order to increase tree canopy in low-income neighborhoods. These regulations can come in the form of city ordinances. Incentives can be in the form of stormwater credits or fee discounts per tree preserved or planted, provide density bonuses for increase in tree canopy, or provide partial funding to owners of apartment complexes that lack trees.

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