Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute has been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help disadvantaged communities in Indiana enhance their resilience to climate change through expansion of urban tree canopies.
Over five years, the project aims to spur a 20% increase in the number of Indiana cities and towns engaged in equitable planning and management of urban trees. The grant also provides funds for planting and maintaining 2,500 trees in disadvantaged communities. Partners on the project include Davey Resource Group and the Polis Center at IUPUI.
The funding is part of the Inflation Reduction Act’s historic $1.5 billion investment in the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program
“As climate change brings more extreme weather to the Midwest, including heavy precipitation and heat waves, urban trees offer a first line of defense to communities in the form of flood protection and temperature moderation, among other benefits,” said ERI Managing Director Sarah Mincey, an associate professor with the O’Neill School of Environmental and Public Affairs and principal investigator of the project. “Historically, these benefits have not been distributed equally, with low-income neighborhoods and communities of color less likely to have access to urban trees, leaving them much more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We’re eager to start working with communities to build up the state’s resilience and address these inequities.”