Maintaining and Enhancing O‘ahu’s Urban Forest
Trees in our urban areas - our communities, neighborhoods, parks, and business districts - are critical for more than just comfort and commerce, but provide numerous, and free, environmental benefits. These benefits are social, economic, and environmental. These benefits include heat mitigation and energy savings on cooling, air pollutant removal, stormwater and soil erosion management, habitat for wildlife, food for sustenance, stress reduction, improved learning and concentration in schools, and improved health and productivity.
Trees are more than just wonderfully beautiful friends, they are hard at work. Trees are one of the few pieces of urban infrastructure that accrue or increase in value with time. These environmental work horses are critical public and private assets, and it is important that we maintain accurate information on their condition for asset management, as well as, opportunities for new plantings.
Mayor Caldwell has committed to the planting of 100,000 trees across O‘ahu by 2025 and increasing our urban tree canopy coverage to 35% by 2035. These are kākou efforts.
Trees, or their absence, can define a community’s character and inform community pride. Data and personal experiences demonstrate that there are some communities today that are undeserved with respect to the urban forest. Climate change poses additional urgency to address gaps in our urban forest to mitigate against hotter temperatures and changing rainfall and wind patterns.
The information and resources below begin to outline the current state of Honolulu’s urban forest, the rules and policies that work to maintain and enhance the urban forest, and presents efforts to improve upon our collective practices of urban forestry to meet our commitments.
policy & planning
Effective policy and plans are informed by regular data collection and analysis.
100,000 Trees x 2025 - record a planting.
35% Canopy x 2035 - Urban Tree Canopy Assessment.
people & implementation
Many individuals are needed at different levels of our community to ensure that plans and rules are followed and goals are reached. Government efforts alone cannot be effective without supportive community leadership and stewardship.
practice & maintenance
In order to maintain Honolulu’s urban forest, the continued practice of monitoring canopy coverage and updating policies and plans is important, as is the continued integration of trees into municipal projects. Trees on private property also play a critical role for a healthy urban forest.
In addition to city trees in our public parks, the greatest impact of urban forests are within our largest and most connected public space - street rights of way.
Department of Parks and Recreation - Division of Urban Forestry
Department of Transportation Services - Complete Streets Design Manual, Chapter 9: Streetscape Ecosystem
Department of Facility Maintenance - Storm Water Quality Division
National Association of County Transportation Officials - Urban Street Stormwater Guide