Shading Tucson: Trees to the Rescue

Tuesday, February 13, 6:00-7:30 pm

The weather keeps getting hotter and drier in southern Arizona.  In 2021, the EPA reported that Pima is the third fastest warming county in the US.  In 2023, July was Tucson’s hottest month on record.

We need more shade!  This was the chorus from Tucson residents as the City worked on its climate action plan, Tucson Resilient Together.  The Million Trees project is a big part of the community’s effort to cool the urban heat island.  A side-benefit:  according to a report in Science (Bastin et al, 2019), “Photosynthetic carbon capture by trees is likely to be among our most effective strategies to limit the rise of CO2 concentrations.”  Other benefits of city trees include:

  • Cleaning the air
  • Beautifying neighborhoods, business districts, parks
  • Calming traffic
  • Reducing risk of violence
  • Providing habitat for birds

Join us for a panel conversation on what we can do to expand the urban forest, especially in parts of Tucson that are currently sparsely shaded. 

Adam Farrell-Wortman, director of horticulture at Tucson Botanical Gardens, manages the care of a diverse palette of herbs, forbs, cactus, shrubs, and trees.  As a garden steward and educator, Adam specializes in regenerative practices such as composting and mulching.  Currently, he is overseeing a study of natural soil regeneration for the health and vigor of trees in the Gardens.
Ann Audrey, lead consultant on Tucson’s Urban Forest Master Plan and author of the guidebook, Native Trees for Tucson:  Ten Best Practices for Using Native Trees to Improve Urban Climate Change Resilience.  Other projects include a response guide to insect and disease threats in urban forests of Arizona and New Mexico, and editing the Rainwater Harvesting Manual, used throughout the US to train rainwater harvesting professionals.
Vikram Krishnamurthy leads the Tree Equity Alliance, a cross-sector initiative launched by American Forests to unite diverse national partners in supporting the national Tree Equity movement.  Prior to joining American Forests, Vikram served as Executive Director of the Delaware Center for Horticulture, an urban greening nonprofit based in Wilmington. In addition to reinventing DCH’s Branches to Chances® workforce and re-entry program, he helped to launch the Delaware River Climate Corps program.  He brings experience in urban forestry, land conservation and local food systems, all of which contribute to his commitment to equity and environmental justice.

Event Meeting

COP28: UA Delegates Report on Their Observations & Local Implications

Tuesday, January 9, 6:00-7:30 pm

The world’s biggest climate meeting, the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), [recently] concluded in Dubai. Negotiators from around the world worked overtime to deliver a new plan for addressing the mounting crisis posed by human-caused climate change. … Despite important progress, COP28 fell short of delivering the decisive action on climate change that science says is needed.” – Forbes magazine, 12/13/23

Join us Tuesday, January 9, at 6 pm for a conversation with University of Arizona delegates to COP28, moderated by Duane Ediger, Sustainable Tucson Board member. The panel will include Joona Mikkola, graduate student in Arid Lands Resource Sciences; Dr. Mona Arora, Assistant Research Professor in the Community, Environment & Policy Department of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; and Yevheniia Varyvoda, Ph.D., Research Professional in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Hear their first-hand observations of the COP experience and, drawing on that experience, their thoughts on what we can do in southern Arizona to improve our climate future. There will be ample time for questions following their presentations.

Dr. Mona Arora’s research focuses on building the public health system’s capacity and capability to address global “wicked problems,” including pandemics, disasters, and climate change. She has a special interest in the health impacts of climate change, with a special focus on the usability of science for decision-making and models for translating science to action.
Joona Mikkola is passionate about ecological economics and finding solutions for real-world development and environmental governance problems with transdisciplinary research. His research interests include common-pool resource problems in semi-arid and arid lands, rangeland management and land-based greenhouse gas fluxes, and climate finance and community-based payments for ecosystem services (CB-PES) in Sahel and East Africa.
Dr. Yevheniia Varyvoda is an interdisciplinary environmental scientist at the University of Arizona. Her research focus is on leveraging nature-based solutions to enhance the resilience of communities, services, and systems upon which they depend. Her specific expertise includes ecosystem services in food systems, a methodological framework for impact assessment in case of emergency situations, and interventions for existing and emerging food safety issues in low- and middle-income countries.


An Easy Step for Cleaner Air

Tuesday, December 12, 6:00-7:30 pm

Did you see the recent report on the impacts of landscape equipment, “Lawn Care Goes Electric”?  One finding:  “In the United States, lawn and garden equipment powered by gasoline and other fossil fuels released more than 30 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2020 – more than all the greenhouse gas emissions from the city of Los Angeles.”
There are other pollutants, too:  Using a commercial leaf blower for an hour, the report notes, emits “as much smog-forming pollution as driving 1,100 miles in a car.”
Come learn more about the costs  — to our climate and our health — of gas-powered landscape equipment and the steps being taken in Tucson and beyond to make the transition to manual and electric power.  A representative of Pima’s Department of Environmental Quality will provide context and describe a voluntary program that helps landscapers or households make the shift.