Part of our mission here at TreePeople is to be a source of practical information and solutions that can help keep every Angeleno safe and healthy, especially in times of extreme weather and natural forces such as the current drought emergency. Even in the face of projected hotter and more erratic weather patterns, we can still move the city towards a viable future – together.
The answer lies in taking care of our most vital resource for environmental well-being in urban areas: trees. Yes, many trees will need supplemental water to get them through the drought, but trees are still key to a sufficient local water supply in Los Angeles.
When it does rain (and it will!), a mature tree can capture thousands of gallons of rainwater in its canopy and root zone, sinking that rain into the aquifer instead of letting it run off into storm drains, where we lose it to the ocean. This is especially important for us in the city of Los Angeles, which imports nearly 90% of its water supply from distant and threatened sources. Not to mention that when it doesn’t rain, we must depend on trees’ shade to keep the land from baking dry. Shaded landscapes retain soil moisture and keep the city cool; ample tree canopy can cool urban land by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
As TreePeople Founder and President Andy Lipkis warns, “With the lack of rainfall, the billions of dollars that Los Angeles has invested in urban tree canopy could be lost, leaving us much more vulnerable to continuing heat and drought.”
We’ve already partnered with state and local water and resource agencies to coordinate actions that work with nature as the basis for a more climate resilient city. In particular, we’re focusing on bringing solutions to Los Angeles that have been applied in Australian cities to help them successfully weather a recent 12-year-long drought.
“TreePeople has always supported people to be active managers of the urban water supply,” Lipkis reminds us. “We provide tools that enable people to take effective action in their neighborhood. Our website has an array of resources for Do-It-Yourself, as well as opportunities to get involved in TreePeople’s programs and events.”