The Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) has launched a new Corporate Sustainability Partnership Program aimed at improving community health and environmental equity through the planting and care of trees. The program is being supported by the Walder Foundation, a private family foundation based in Skokie, Illinois, focused in part on funding work in environmental sustainability.
“The Chicago region is experiencing serious challenges resulting from the loss of millions of trees to disease, pests and extreme weather,” said Lydia Scott, director of CRTI at The Morton Arboretum. “The ability of communities to reduce heat islands, save energy, manage flooding and improve air and water quality is directly tied to the number and quality of trees in our urban forest. By partnering with CRTI, corporations can be a driving force in developing a greener, healthier and more equitable Chicago region while also achieving their sustainability goals,” she said.
CRTI reports that community tree coverage in the seven-county Chicago region ranges from 3% to 66%, with a regional average of 18%—far below the national average for urban areas of 41%. “This points to disparities in tree canopy benefits for under-resourced communities, such as reduced effects of flooding and heat, and economic improvements,” Scott noted. She said that many communities lack the capacity to plant and care for trees—particularly in the face of COVID-19 budget cuts.
CRTI is a collaborative of nearly 200 organizations in the Chicago region, including The Morton Arboretum, Openlands, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Forest Preserves of Cook County and Illinois Green Industry Association. It will be partnering with corporations that are uniquely positioned to make a difference in the region by funding larger, more impactful projects than possible for many communities.
Corporations can fund projects such as community tree plantings, park rehabilitation and woodland ecosystem restoration, as well as larger, region-wide initiatives. Large projects may also be eligible for accreditation through City Forest Credits, the national credentialing registry for Carbon+ Credits and Impact Certification.
Information about the CRTI Corporate Sustainability Partnership Program is available at ChicagoRTI.org.