Health Impact Assessment: The Impacts of Increasing Tree Canopy Coverage in Marion County, Indiana
Background: Urban tree canopies help to address issues of climate change related to all dimensions of health. Certain areas of the city of Indianapolis are more prone to the negative effects that lack of tree coverage can cause. This assessment explored the short term and potential long-term impacts of the efforts to increase the tree canopy coverage in vulnerable areas of Indianapolis. This effort was a collaboration of faculty members from the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indianapolis Department of Public Works, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, and the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability.
Methods: Our team used the standard seven-step Health Impact Assessment (HIA) process to make the recommendations provided. Using direct observation of the neighborhood, secondary data collection, literature review, and a key stakeholder interview, we examined key dimensions of health including environmental, physical, and personal health outcomes resulting from increased tree canopy coverage within census tract 3505 of Marion County, Indiana.
Results: Increasing the percentage of tree canopy coverage in census tract 3505 – Crown Hill has significant positive health impacts with minimal negative outcomes. Such impacts may be, but are not subject to, lower temperatures, reduced cases of respiratory and cardiac infections/illnesses, promoting animal life, increasing neighborhood property values and filtering pollutants that result
from human production activity.
Conclusions: Further implementation of the Thrive Indianapolis project has broad positive implications for the community members living in this area. While few negative implications were found, we make recommendations to mitigate these effects while attempting to supplement the current project plan with a focus on the effects to human health.
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