Training community members on using American Forests’ Tree Equity Score Analyzer

American Forests has recently developed a free powerful new digital tool – the Tree Equity Score Analyzer (TESA), based on its Tree Equity Score Explorer – that enables users to explore the positive environmental impacts of tree planting scenarios in their cities. Tree equity, one of our core values at Speak for the Trees, is the concept that all residents deserve access to the same environmental, public health, economic, and social benefits of trees. To date American Forests has rolled out TESA for Rhode Island, Richmond, Virginia, and most recently, Boston, with more cities to come.

TESA not only allows users to analyze disparities in tree coverage across Boston neighborhoods, it also enables them to create planting scenarios and calculates the environmental and economic benefits of increasing the tree canopy at the level of census blocks and parcels. Specifically, TESA includes three tools:

  1. The ability to zoom into neighborhoods at the parcel level, allowing examination of the existing tree coverage of specific addresses in Boston. 
  2. A scenario planning tool to propose planting plans at the parcel and neighborhood levels.
  3. An impact report that details the environmental and economic benefits of the proposed planting scenario, which can be a powerful advocacy tool.

Speak for the Trees was selected by American Forests to provide training on TESA to community groups in Boston. SFTT staff developed a 2-part training in early 2023 and in March and April offered this training to three groups. Participants explored how they can use TESA to advocate for increasing the tree canopy in their neighborhoods. 

The training, over two 2-hour sessions, empowers residents to understand and advocate for their local urban forest. The first session serves as an introduction to the importance of tree equity and the functions and navigation of TESA. The second session is centered on goal-setting through scenario planning. This session fosters discussion about how the tool can be used by the neighborhood groups to explore tree planting scenarios and how Speak for the Trees can assist in making those scenarios reality. 

Our staff has led three training sessions with three different groups. The first was with the Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard, a community advocacy group whose mission is to transform Melnea Cass Boulevard into a greenway. The members of the group hope to use the tool to advocate for various planting proposals that include street trees, park trees, and trees on private property.

The second training was for students from Boston Green Academy, an in-district charter school that has a strong focus on environmental sustainability. The six students who participated in the training were eager to learn how to use the tool and caught on very quickly. After the first session these students returned to school and taught their classmates how to use TESA. During the second session they developed a tree planting proposal of their own to present at the Academy’s Earth Day Event on April 13, 2023.

The third training was for the members of the Talbot Harvard Triangle community group, organized by local resident Cynthia Francis. This group seeks to increase the tree canopy in the Talbot Harvard Triangle. Participants included three parent-child pairs, with the goals of empowering adults and children to use TESA and also discussing and developing curriculum materials on tree equity to share with their school teachers.

TESA is a FREE tool available to all. Residents of Boston are encouraged to explore and use the tool.

Speak for the Trees  offers training on how to use TESA. If you are a part of an environmental organization, community group, Boston Public School, house of worship, or any other group, and are interested in learning more or in scheduling a training session, please reach out to our staff at [email protected].