Speak for the Trees and NOAH team up for Tree Canopy

For nearly three years, a group of concerned teens from East Boston’s Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) have been trying to rekindle the neighborhood’s grassroots effort to have more trees planted in Eastie. NOAH Youth members have launched the tree canopy project in an effort to bring awareness to Eastie’s lack of street trees and want to double our tree canopy coverage in Eastie.
Recently NOAH has gotten some help from Speak for the Trees, a Boston non-profit committed to supporting the vitality of the urban tree canopy in the Greater Boston area–especially in areas with low canopy coverage.
Speak for the Trees is working in cooperation with a newly formed group, TREE
Eastie and NOAH to document open tree pits, care for street trees, and get new trees planted in the neighborhood.
“Since Speak for the Trees was founded in 2018, we have turned to NOAH youth to learn about their successes and challenges in tree stewardship and tree advocacy work,” said Speak for the Trees Director David Meshoulam. “The multi-year grassworks efforts that NOAH has undertaken to elevate the importance of trees serves as a model of community organizing that we hope can be replicated in other Environmental Justice neighborhoods throughout the city. This year, we’re thrilled to be able to work together to amplify their efforts by providing them with further resources and tools to engage residents and grow their urban forest, such as software, additional training, and trees for their residents to plant in private yards.”
Meshoulam, a life-long environmentalist and science educator, said trees are critical in protecting us from climate change and cleaning the air.
“The partnership between Speak for the Trees and NOAH is helping us grow our urban tree canopy in East Boston,” said NOAH’s Melinda Vega. “Not only to our efforts to plant and care for trees align, but we also share in the values of doing this work through a racial equity lens that prioritizes Environmental Justice neighborhoods such as East Boston. We’re thrilled to have our Youth Organizers collaborate with their Teen Urban Tree Corps members to provide Boston teens with the tools to become changemakers in their communities.”
The youths define the tree canopy as street trees or trees that line the sidewalks throughout the neighborhood. The youth have been working to gather information and data on the tree canopy and now are starting to plant these new trees throughout Eastie.
Vega said that nearly 70 trees were planted last year and another 40 are slated to be planted this year.
Using Google Earth the NOAH Youth 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 NOAH Youth points to is a 4,980-foot stretch of Maverick Street from the Maverick Gate near the airport to Maverick Square. The problem at that location is that there are only 17 trees, or 9-percent of the possible 199 trees that could potentially line the street.
The youth said trees naturally absorb pollution and could reduce urban noise by 6 to 15 decibels.
The NOAH Youth plan to Increase tree coverage in Eastie to 30 percent thus doubling the current tree canopy coverage.
More info can be found at www.treeeastie.org.

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