• A new tree-planting project aims to help combat climate change, boost wellbeing and support economically disadvantaged areas.
  • TAZO, a tea company owned by consumer products group Unilever, and US conservation organization, American Forests, have launched the initiative.
  • Detroit, Minneapolis, the San Francisco Bay Area, Richmond in Virginia and the Bronx in New York are the target cities.
  • Trees boost people’s moods and health, absorb carbon emissions and support biodiversity, amongst other benefits.

Trees in city neighbourhoods can help boost people’s wellbeing, improve air and water quality and even generate jobs – amongst other positives.

But wealthier, predominantly white, areas are more likely to enjoy these benefits – because they tend to have far more trees.

For lower income districts and Black, indigenous and people of color (‘BIPOC’) communities, the picture is less green. These areas have 20% fewer trees on average than white communities, according to a study of 37 cities in the United States.

To help restore this imbalance, two partners have teamed up to bring ‘Tree Equity’ and urban forestry jobs to five US cities.

They have launched TAZO Tree Corps, a paid workforce of locally hired people who will plant and maintain trees in the communities that need them most.

a diagram explaining 'the power of urban forests'
Trees in urban areas have multiple benefits, including absorbing heat, improving air quality and boosting wellbeing.
Image: American Forests

Tree teams

The initiative is a team effort between TAZO, a tea company owned by consumer products group Unilever, and US conservation organization American Forests.

“The climate crisis is no longer a future problem – it’s here now and BIPOC communities are disproportionately at risk,” says Laraine Miller, president of Unilever Tea Americas, which owns TAZO.

The project started recruiting this month in Detroit, Minneapolis, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and will move to Richmond in Virginia and the Bronx in New York in 2022. The recruitment campaign features American singer SZA.

How does the World Economic Forum encourage biological diversity?

How does the World Economic Forum encourage biological diversity?

In the last 100 years, more than 90 percent of crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields, and all of the world’s 17 main fishing grounds are now being fished at or above their sustainable limits.

These trends have reduced diversity in our diets, which is directly linked to diseases or health risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity and malnutrition.

One initiative which is bringing a renewed focus on biological diversity is the Tropical Forest Alliance.

This global public-private partnership is working on removing deforestation from four global commodity supply chains – palm oil, beef, soy, and pulp and paper.

The Alliance includes businesses, governments, civil society, indigenous people and communities, and international organizations.

Enquire to become a member or partner of the Forum and help stop deforestation linked to supply chains.

Five TAZO Tree Corps recruits will take part in two to three weeks of paid urban forestry training. They will then transition into full-time employment with The Davey Tree Expert Company, a nationwide tree-planting and care business.

Tree Corps members will also be trained in climate justice advocacy. As part of the project, grassroots tree groups in each area will provide a range of support services. This might include helping people navigate barriers to work, like transport and childcare.

“By creating the TAZO Tree Corps, we are one big step closer to reaching the goal of Tree Equity, a vision for all people in every community to experience the healing power of trees, regardless of income, race or location,” says Sarah L. Anderson, American Forests’ director of career pathways, an initiative that aims to train and place those facing barriers to employment into tree care jobs in urban areas with sparse tree cover.