Cool Green Trees Program

The Cool Green Trees program is built on a passion for planting trees in a changing world. We are taking action to mitigate climate change and to advance environmental justice. We are working on local changes that will affect the health of generations to come.

Cool Green Trees plants the right trees in the right place. We nurture these young trees to become healthy adults — as well as the people who live alongside them.

Our Story

Using natural, “green” solutions makes sense to people who have seen them work. We have been working with local government, neighborhoods, nonprofits, and social/environmental partners for years to bring all the benefits of trees back into urban places. Human health remains the most important benefit from healthy, native trees. With our new program, we have the chance to make that change at a larger scale.

The Cool Green plan was developed over a two-year period to identify and prioritize areas in Jefferson County where present and future extreme heat will most affect human health. The results of this investigation clearly show that low-income neighborhoods are most affected by extreme heat, especially those with a history of “redlining” during post-war real estate evaluation. These “urban heat islands” have minimal tree canopy, high summer nighttime temperatures, lots of impervious surfaces, and poor respiratory health.

Living in a southern city that suffered from redlining real estate practices, black Birmingham residents were often relegated to low-lying lands that were regularly flooded by stormwater and often contaminated by nearby industry. Planting trees was not a priority. Being located close to industry in treeless areas left communities vulnerable to excessive heat, flooding, and illness.

With collaboration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), we used the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroAtlas health data to create a GIS StoryMap for our Cool Green Action Plan, in order to make the case for using trees to cool and clean the city.

Cool Green collaborators looked closely at priority areas that could benefit from Green Infrastructure, such as spaces for new young forests and natural “sponges” to slow stormwater runoff. Healthy trees create the triple natural benefit of absorbing stormwater, cleaning the air, and lowering summer nighttime heat.

Our mission is to improve the environment and community through planting trees.

Our vision is to plant trees to mitigate the negative effects of urban heat islands, stormwater runoff, and air pollution to uplift the community, economy, and health of Jefferson County, Alabama.