Black Walnut Trees Elysian Park

USC will work with the city to create an urban forest of shade trees to improve the health and quality of life of residents in Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Lincoln Heights, it was announced Wednesday.

The effort is part of Los Angeles' Green New Deal initiative to plant 90,000 trees across Los Angeles. USC researchers will use computer models, air sensors and other tools to guide the city and other organizations on where to plant the trees so they have the biggest impact on pollution, shade and heat islands.

"The data generated by our team will provide a detailed scientific roadmap to help the city and the community plant an urban forest that maximizes benefits to our environment and human health," said Kate Weber, director of Public Exchange, an office within the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

USC's urban forest project will focus on 3 1/2 square miles northeast of the university's Health Sciences Campus in Boyle Heights, which includes parts of El Sereno, Ramona Gardens and Lincoln Heights. USC researchers noted that the area suffers from poor air quality and little shade, and the median household income is about half of L.A. overall.

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L.A.'s Green New Deal's tree initiative calls for increasing the forest canopy in specifically low-income heat zones by 50% by 2028.

USC Dornsife researchers will deploy sensors to measure airborne pollutants, which will help them determine the best places to plant trees to reduce pollution and improve the area's airflow.

"This work will further our understanding of the strategic use of trees to improve quality of life for all Angelenos and meet the urban forestry goals of L.A.'s Green New Deal," said Rachel Malarich, the city's forest officer.

Over the past three months, the USC team held virtual meetings to get input from representatives of local nonprofits, the Los Angeles City Council and businesses. Next, they will meet with residents and business owners to get further input on the plan.

USC Urban Forest Project Map

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