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Canopy: creating community through tree planting

Canopy Organization: creating community through tree planting
The Canopy organization has made it a priority to create thriving urban forests where it is needed most. Photo courtesy Canopy

“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope”
? Wangari Maathai. Nobel Peace Prize 2004.

Listen to the full interview

Imagine being able to go for a walk, play and enjoy under the canopy of healthy and leafy trees, which beyond recreating the view, serve as an air filter, helping the health of the community, in addition to reducing the temperature of the cities. That is the goal of Canopies, an organization that has made it their priority to create thriving urban forests where they are needed most.

Canopy director Jean-Paul ?JP? Renaud spoke with Manuel Ortiz on Por la Libre, the mobile community radio station of Peninsula 360 Press, where he explained the need for more trees in cities such as East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks and Menlo Park, among other cities in San Mateo County.

?Canopy is a community organization that plants trees in five different cities here in San Mateo. It is important to plant trees, because the three communities we are working in in East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, and in Belle Heaven, need trees more than anything? There are not enough trees here, so we work every day with the community to see how we can solve that problem,” he said.

But, Canopy doesn't do the job alone, so it involves the community to accomplish the great task of populating cities with trees.

?It is important for us to involve the community in this work, because when they invest in their community, when they work to plant trees with us, they learn something about trees and why it is important to plant them, in addition to learning about the needs of our communities,? , Renaud stressed.

This Saturday, April 20, Canopy collaborators, together with volunteers, planted six trees in residential spaces in North Fair Oaks, at the request of the homeowners themselves.

And, he said, Canopy plants trees in private spaces, because it is very complicated to do so in public spaces, which is why they carry out studies to verify that the species can be planted without affecting structures, underground wiring, or any other construction.

Canopy plants trees in private spaces, because it is very complicated to do so in public spaces, so they carry out studies to verify that the species can be planted without affecting structures, underground wiring, or any other construction. Photo courtesy Canopy

"Our solution here, specifically in North Fair Oaks, is to work with communities, with residents who want trees, and we plant them for free," he explained.

The way Canopy can donate and plant these trees is through its website, where people who want to have trees on their properties fill out an application, leave their contact information, and the organization looks for them for the study and, be feasible, they arrive with volunteers, the trees, plant them and maintain them. 

But why is the task of planting trees in cities important?

For Jean-Paul ?JP? Renaud the situation is clear, it is a health issue. He said that it helps human beings in many ways, as they serve as air purifiers, improving the physical conditions, for example, of those with asthma problems.

In addition, he explained that trees protect from the sun and reduce the temperature of the ground and, therefore, of cities.

?If you are in the middle of the street without a tree to protect you from the sun, it can be up to 10 degrees hotter, and when we talk about it in Fahrenheit, a day without a tree can reach 105 degrees, and Could that be deadly?

The way Canopy can donate and plant these trees is through its website, where people who want to have trees on their properties fill out an application, leave their contact information, and the organization looks for them for the study and, be feasible, they arrive with volunteers, the trees, plant them and maintain them. Photo courtesy Canopy

But, in addition to all this, Renaud highlighted that planting trees creates community.

?(plant trees) It is important because it creates community. (People) come from communities that, if it weren't for today's reason, of coming together to plant trees, would never have met, never would have worked together and formed a community?

And, he explained, "later, that community, that coalition of people, can solve other problems that are not only about trees, but they met here thanks to planting trees."

?(plant trees) It is important because it creates community. (People) come from communities that, if it weren't for today's reason, of coming together to plant trees, would never have met, never would have worked together and formed a community? –Jean-Paul ?JP? Renaud, director of Canopy. Photo courtesy Canopy

In addition to the work of planting trees, cleaning is added; Canopy prioritizes tree planting and management, education and advocacy in communities where people do not have a thriving urban forest due to limited resources, through four strategies: engage, educate, maintenance, and advocacy.

?We are trying to be more friends with the community and when the community asks us to do a little more, other than trees, like cleaning the streets, we try to do what we can to be good partners and allies with the community.?

Arlene Nunez, community forestry coordinator at Canopy, said the organization has planted more than 50 trees at Hoover Elementary School, as well as Taft, both in Redwood City. Plus 50 other trees in North Fair Oaks.

In addition to the work of planting trees, cleaning is added; Canopy prioritizes tree planting and management, education and advocacy in communities where people do not have a thriving urban forest due to limited resources, through four strategies: engage, educate, maintenance, and advocacy. Photo courtesy Canopy

The Latin community has joined these types of actions, who have seen a benefit from trees in their cities.

?The response of the Latin community to activities like this of planting trees and a link with nature (they see it as positive), many people are already willing to accept trees because they already know how their lives change.?

You may be interested in: Organization seeks San Mateo County to have greater tree cover

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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