Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced a historic increase in funding for urban forests nationwide! As part of Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, $1.5 billion dollars have been allocated to the USDA's Urban and Community Forestry Program. $1 billion dollars in grant funding is now available to community organizations, local governments and other groups to plant trees and expand the urban forest canopy.
Senator Chuck Schumer, who led the passage of this groundbreaking environmental legislation, met with organizations including Big Reuse and NYC Parks last month to engage city groups in applying for the grants and help us access this much-needed funding. Urban forests are vital in supporting public health, mitigating extreme weather conditions and lessening the effects of climate change. Street trees are even shown to lower the temperature of the areas around them by several degrees! Right now, the city has 22 percent tree coverage, and this coverage is predominantly in affluent areas. The city council recently joined Forest for NYC, a coalition of organizations advocating for achieving 30 percent coverage by 2035.
We have years of experience in taking care of street trees, coordinating volunteer groups and teaching communities across the city about urban forestry and how to support the trees in their neighborhoods. We are hoping to expand our work in the coming years to include street tree plantings. Environmental justice is our priority and we want to ensure disadvantaged communities in Queens and Brooklyn receive long-needed green space and forest expansion. These historically under-served neighborhoods are the most likely to feel the direct effects of climate change and environmental degradation.
We are excited to continue working with our partners on the city council including Crystal Hudson, Julie Won, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Sandy Nurse, Julie Menin, Tiffany Cabán and Lincoln Restler in caring for the city's street trees!