Healthy Chesapeake: Planting Trees to Reduce Urban Heat Islands
Aug 12, 2020
Healthy Chesapeake, located in Virginia, has embraced the population health philosophy that health and well-being are interconnected with social, cultural, physical, and economic factors. The Department of Health and Healthy Chesapeake is planting an urban orchard for the community in hopes of combating both the urban heat island effect and food deserts.
All Health is Connected
Healthy Chesapeake manages the population’s health for the Chesapeake Health Department, and they work to build a culture of health that provides everyone in Chesapeake a fair and just opportunity for health. They focus on four key factors to determine community health: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
"More and more, medical science has turned to mental and emotional health as a key driver in overall physical health. Trees serve as a constant reminder of life, strength, peace and beauty, all elements necessary to finding inner peace, which leads to better health. Trees are timeless. Trees are beautiful. They are an ecosystem all unto themselves, supporting the smallest forms of life necessary to sustain human life,” said Kimi Stevens, Public Relations and Social Marketing Chesapeake Health Department - Healthy Chesapeake.
The Department of Health and Healthy Chesapeake promote Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives to the public, and they are planting an urban orchard later this year for the community. The City of Chesapeake Health Department and Virginia Department of Forestry are also partnering on projects to combat urban heat island effect and food deserts through tree planting.
“Our overlapping community goals can be reached by continuing to work together on projects such as urban orchards, which not only provide a source of fresh healthy food, but also foster a sense of community, improve mental health, and reduce the urban heat island,” said Meghan Mulroy-Goldman, Community Forester, Virginia Department of Forestry.
The lack of trees in a neighborhood increases the “urban heat island'' effect, meaning that a metropolitan area is significantly warmer due to human activities. Not only do trees play a huge role in the health of people living in cities, but the presence of trees in a neighborhood gives the area more shade and coverage, which reduces heat. Cities have been losing millions of trees year after year, and it has been proven that many poor urban neighborhoods are starting at a disadvantage. [Source: NPR].
That’s why Healthy Chesapeake’s work is so vital: if the community plants more trees, it will reduce the urban heat island and the community will be rewarded with an array of health benefits.
“The shade trees provide can be lifesaving, literally. Stand under one and tell me you disagree. They transcend politics, borders, and barriers. All they ask of us is to let them do their job silently. That's love. The world needs more of that right about now,” said Stevens.
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