Conservancy groups identify space for at least 500 trees in Gulfton neighborhood – Houston Public Media

Conservancy groups identify space for at least 500 trees in Gulfton neighborhood – Houston Public Media

A look at Glenmont Dr. in the Gulfton area with little to no shade.

The Texas A&M Forest Service and the Conservation in Texas conducted an analysis and found that the Gulfton neighborhood of southwest Houston has room for more than 500 trees.

The Gulfton Super Neighborhood was named one of Houston’s hottest communities — due to a lack of green space and a high concentration of concrete — according to a federal heat-mapping project conducted in 2020, compounding the effects of urban heat in the area.

On Monday, April 24, both organizations went to the area and specifically drew on the ground where the trees could potentially be planted in public spaces. Texas A&M Forest Service developed real-time mapping software that identified potential locations for the trees.

“Through the analysis, we were able to determine that there is room for more trees and benefits to this community,” said Mac Martin, coordinator of Texas A&M Forest Service’s urban and community forestry partnership program.

Martin said the neighborhood lacks tree canopy to offset increases in urban heat, which can cause health and environmental problems such as increased stormwater runoff, air pollution, asthma and respiratory problems.

“It’s a highly developed neighborhood,” he said. “It’s also a heavily trafficked area, lots of people walking in that community – so these heat absorbing services like your asphalt and concrete basically absorb that heat, radiate it and make it even warmer during the day – a lot of those community members are likely.” affected by it.”

Martin said as the groups did the analysis, they began to learn what community members are going through, which is why it’s important to bring that missing nature into the neighborhood.

“You could feel the heat building up,” he said. “We passed pedestrians who were walking to their jobs out there as part of their daily lives — saw people under those bus stops and felt heat rising off the ground… people just cooking underneath.”

A plan called Greener Gulftona community initiative with a number of projects to reduce heat, improve air quality and make nature more accessible developed from the Nature Conservancy in Texas, with help from local and community members.

Jaime González, director of community and equitable programs at The Nature Conservancy in Texas, said the study helped them understand where trees in the area might go, which has never been done before.

“There are a number of places in Gulfton that trees could be planted,” he said. “We could plant more trees [around] Schools, an available park that serves Gulfton, we could potentially work with housing managers to put trees there, but where we really looked was along streets, avenues, minor roads where we could put trees in public rights of way.

González said it’s not just about planting trees because there is space, but the placement of trees and tree species plays an important role.

“Gulfton is a very dense neighborhood,” he said. “There are many areas along sidewalks and natural areas that are too thin to plant trees. He said the tree species must also be able to withstand the environment in which it is planted. “When we look at the species we’re using, we want it to be diverse, aesthetically pleasing, meet the needs of the community, and be sustainable as the city warms.”

The city of Houston has a goal to plant 4.6 million trees by 2030. Texas A&M Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy of Texas have both worked closely with the city to help them get closer to their goal. González said he hopes the effort can continue with the new poll results for Gulfton, but no timeframe has been set for when planting for the community could begin.

“We work closely with our colleagues in the city of Houston and Harris County,” he said. “We all agree that we want more nature-based solutions in the city to protect both human and wildlife communities – so we’re thrilled that the City of Houston has set this very ambitious milestone, and we want to be a partner in that.” co-creation.”