MPR News with Angela Davis

Why we need trees in Minnesota cities

Ash tree branches are removed along Grand Ave.
A crew from the Minneapolis Park Board removes ash tree branches along Grand Avenue in 2016. The crew removed ash trees as part of a plan to harvest boulevard ash trees as emerald ash borer spreads and replant with more diverse species.
Elizabeth Dunbar | MPR News 2016

If this heat wave had you ducking from the sun, you may have a new appreciation for how shady your neighborhood is — or isn’t.   

A leafy tree canopy can keep temperatures cooler by nearly 10 degrees compared to nearby paved areas. And trees have other benefits, too: keeping the air cleaner, raising property values and even reducing crime. 

But not all neighborhoods are equal when it comes to trees. A new report from the nonprofit American Forests finds that neighborhoods with more low-income households and people of color tend to have fewer trees. 

Achieving tree equity has become more important in the context of climate change, and it’s become a bigger challenge as cities cut down thousands of ash trees sickened by the emerald ash borer. 

Host Angela Davis talks to a professor of urban forestry and a community tree advocate about why we should pay more attention to our trees and how to get them into areas that need them most. 


  • Eric North is an assistant professor of urban and community forestry in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota. 

  • Karen Zumach is director of community forestry at Tree Trust, a Twin Cities nonprofit that works to grow the urban forest and jobs in natural resources. She also serves as the president of the Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee.  

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