This is the third installment of a month-long Wednesday series on The Phoenix Tree and Shade Master Plan. Part I was all about what an urban forest is and Part II, last Wednesday, was about the multiple benefits of a healthy urban forest. Today I’m going to talk about the first step that the Master Plan has outlined towards restoring the urban forest.
This is the vision of the Master Plan for the year 2030:
By 2030, the view from the northern ridge lines of South Mountain to the desert washes of the Sonoran Preserve reveals the urban forest as a healthy, diverse and cohesive ecosystem. Saguaros cover the hillsides, shade trees define streets, and residential neighborhoods are tree groves that are cool and comfortable. The urban forest lowers the temperature during the summer months, and characterizes the city as a connected oasis that radiates out from Downtown. The urban forest identifies this place as a unique desert city. Phoenix reflects and preserves the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
Elected officials, citizens, city staff, and developers value the diverse mix of flora and fauna that make up the urban forest. Citizens are educated about the benefits of the urban forest and view it as a critical component of the infrastructure that must have regular investment and maintenance.
By 2030, Phoenix has laid the foundation for a healthy and sustainable urban forest that is carefully cared for and managed. The urban forest contributes to the economic, environmental and social well-being of our city, as well as furthers the goals and policies of the city. Phoenix has made the urban forest a priority.
The first step to achieve this goal is to raise awareness of the health of the urban forest. The first component of this step if to create partnerships with community groups, businesses, non-profit organizations, and public agencies. The City can’t do it alone. Once everyone is on board with the mission of restoring our urban forest, the actions to implement the Master Plan will fall into place more easily.
The second component of raising awareness is to actually train the entities I just mentioned on how to restore and preserve the urban forest. Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, the City itself has not been able to do much of this training. The responsibility of educating and training then falls onto community groups, responsible businesses and non-profits. This is where we as non-governmental individuals and groups can step in and make a difference.
The third component is to implement shade demonstration projects. One is already underway called Gimme Shelter, which recently won $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Part of this project will be to plant more trees on Pierce St. between 1st and Central where the Downtown Public Market is. Demonstration projects like this one are important because they provide real-life evidence of all the benefits of a thriving urban forest, benefits like increasing walkability, decreasing the urban heat island, and helping to create more social connections.
The fourth component of raising awareness by the Master Plan is to start with downtown. This is a great idea, especially considering the influx of students to downtown who are generally pedestrians and will benefit the most from a lush urban forest. The idea of restoring the Urban Forest in downtown is also integral to the Connected Oasis principle of the Downtown Phoenix Plan and Code. According to the Master Plan, “The idea of the Connected Oasis is to create shaded streets and walkways that help to establish a unique urban environment.”
Next week, I’ll talk about steps 2 and 3 towards achieving the 2030 vision which are to Preserve, Protect and Increase and Sustainable, Maintainable Infrastructure.
Photo Credit: A photo of a shaded Central Avenue sidewalk south of Thomas. Photo by Taz Loomans.Tags: blooming rock, city of phoenix, Connected Oasis, Downtown Phoenix Plan and Code, Downtown Public Market, Gimme Shelter, heat-island effect, phoenix, Phoenix Tree and Shade Master Plan, shade, taz loomans, urban forest, walking