There’s a shady (and leafy) divide between Denver’s whiter, wealthier neighborhoods and everyone else

A section of Washington Park with a Tree Equity Score of 100 is seen on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, in Denver. American Forest’s Tree Equity Score metric can assist cities in distributing tree cover across neighborhoods. The score is derived from tree canopy amounts, climate, demographic and socioeconomic data. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

Trees and green spaces can make people healthier and happier, but maps show communities of color and low-income neighborhoods across the city have less access to shade.

By Olivia Prentzel The Colorado Sun

Summer days are for shady strolls down a tree-lined street and picnics under a canopy of leaves. But how many trees — and how much shade — a person can find in their neighborhood might depend on how rich it is. 

Not everyone has equal access to trees and the endless benefits they provide, especially when trying to escape the summer’s sweltering heat, according to a map created by a conservation nonprofit.

A recent analysis by American Forests highlights Denver’s shady divide: neighborhoods of color and areas with higher poverty rates have fewer trees than those that are predominantly white and more affluent.

The interactive map highlights the tree canopy in neighborhoods across the city using geospatial and census data to show which parts of the city are less protected by tree cover and more exposed to increasing and unhealthy heat levels.

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