Los Angeles Beautification Team Research

The CURes team recently completed the first round of measurements for a two-year tree survey in Pacoima and surrounding neighborhoods, located in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles. The LA Beautification Team (LABT), through a CAL FIRE urban forestry grant, is funding the project.

The aim of the survey is to monitor street trees planted to combat climate change concerns in disadvantaged neighborhoods, completing four seasonal data collections over two years to assess the growth of different species to better inform City planning. Street trees help reduce the urban heat island effect, perform air filtration services, and reduce traffic noise. Urban green infrastructure can also provide physical and mental health benefits, including reduced asthma risk, lowered reported stress levels, and increased activity rates. Additionally, planting trees sequesters carbon, assisting with global goals to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Over the course of the three days, the CURes research team recently completed the first round of data collection, gathering data on 174 trees.

For each tree, the team recorded measurement data (height, trunk circumference, crown radius), health data (percent die-back, percent crown missing), and growing conditions (percent full sun exposure). The team is measuring three different tree species: Pistacia chinensis, Lophostemon confertus, and Bauhinia purpurea.

LABT is actively watering some of the trees, while others they are not. By measuring these two different conditions for three different species, best practices can be determined for street tree planting in the future.

In addition to the fieldwork, CURes will lead community workshops on the inter-sectional impacts of trees. This will allow residents to learn about LABT’s work, engage with climate change efforts, and provide feedback on their experiences. These will take place later in the funding period.

A big thank-you to the CURes summer research students who assisted with the data collection!