For nearly two years, a group of concerned teens from East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) are trying to rekindle the neighborhood’s grassroots effort by getting more trees planted in Eastie.
NOAH’s Environmental and Community Building Youth Crew members told residents at a recent community meeting that last year nearly 70 trees were planted and another 40 are slated to be planted this year.
Despite past efforts to plant trees in Eagle Hill and Jeffries Point the neighborhoods overall tree canopy is only 15 percent of what it should or could be.
NOAH’s Youth Crew members have launched the tree canopy project in an effort to bring awareness to the lack of street trees and are aiming to double the tree canopy coverage in Eastie. The youths define the tree canopy as street trees or trees that line the sidewalks throughout the neighborhood. The youths have been working to gather information and data on the tree canopy and now are starting to plant these new trees throughout Eastie.
Recently the tree canopy project and the NOAH Youth Crew got a boost from a grant from Eversource.
Eversource’s Community Relations Manager John Hoey pointed to the tree canopy project as one example of how NOAH’s Youth Crew are making an impact in the community.
“The Youth Organizers are actively working to increase the number of street trees in East Boston, while also encouraging residents to “Adopt a Tree”, said Hoey. “They work closely with the City of Boston Parks Department, other local community groups, and residents to advocate for a greener neighborhood. Projects like this give them an opportunity to gain valuable real-world experience and leadership skills that will empower them for years to come.”
Hoey said helping the NOAH Youth Crew’s project is a great opportunity to give back to the communities Eversource serves.
“The NOAH Youth Organizers are the future of East Boston and they’re making a measurable difference in their community.” he said.
NOAH Community Engagement Coordinator Melinda Vega said with the help of this grant, NOAH’s Youth Crew will be able to purchase additional supplies needed to continue their tree canopy expansion and other projects that benefit the entire Eastie community.
“We’re grateful to receive this grant from a strong community partner like Eversource,” said Vega.
Using Google Earth the Youth Crew mapped and market every tree in the neighborhood. They counted the number of trees per street and calculated how many trees could possibly fit on any given street. Studies show that ideally for a good urban tree canopy there is a tree every 20 to 25 feet.
The Youth Crew found there were 1,924 trees in Eastie and over 300,000 linear feet of sidewalk space. On average there is a tree every 167 feet. If a tree was planted every 25 feet Eastie could have over 12,500 trees.
An example the Youth Crew points to is a 4,980 foot stretch of Maverick Street from the Maverick Gate near the airport to Maverick Square. The problem in this area is that there are only 17 trees, or nine percent of the possible 199 trees that could potentially line the street. The NOAH youth argue that with the lack of trees, Eastie residents are missing out on the positive impacts a fully developed tree canopy could have on the health and well-being of residents.
Trees cool things down by as much as 9 degrees and street trees have been found to be most effective at reducing “heat islands”. Trees provide more shade and cooler houses, which means less energy used and less money spent on cooling.
The youth also said trees naturally absorb pollution and could reduce urban noise by six to 15 decibels.
The NOAH Youth Crew plans to Increase tree coverage in Eastie to 30 percent thus doubling the current tree canopy coverage. This is because according to the University of Melbourne, cooling benefits from trees start at 30 percent tree coverage for an area. This would mean adding almost 2,000 new trees to the area. With the help of residents and the city the NOAH Youth Crew is confident that can be accomplished. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or want to adopt one of the newly planted trees contact Melinda Vega at [email protected]