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Cooler and Healthier: Increasing Tree Stewardship and Reducing Heat-Health Risk Using Community-Based Urban Forestry

  • de Guzman, Edith B
  • Wohldmann, Erica L
  • Eisenman, David P
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2023
eScholarship - University of California
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Heat exposure poses health risks that disproportionately burden disadvantaged communities. Trees protect against heat, but significant barriers exist to growing robust urban forests. In drier climates, complex logistics of watering during a multi-year establishment period pose a challenge because street trees are typically unirrigated and funding for maintenance is generally unavailable. This study tested the impacts of varying theory-guided community engagement approaches on beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors related to foster street tree stewardship and individual-level heat mitigation actions in 116 households in Los Angeles County, USA. We tested a control intervention against experimental messaging focused on either public health or environmental health, and also segmented participants by the degree of prior household engagement with a local tree planting group. Outcomes measured were soil moisture, tree health, and survey responses indicating benefits and barriers related to tree stewardship. Results indicate that intervention messages had limited effect on these outcomes, and that level of engagement by the tree planting group was a stronger predictor of tree stewardship. We also found that tree stewardship correlated positively to heat protection measures, suggesting that environmental engagement may be an effective portal to reducing heat risk.

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