Councilwoman Dorsey praises Green Heart Project as way to restore Louisville’s tree canopy and improve community health

October 16, 2019

Louisville – At 1000 Stanley Avenue this week, the first of thousands of trees was planted as part of a major health study to determine the impact of green foliage on the community’s health.

Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey (D-3) was on hand for the first tree planted as part of the Green Heart Project, a program being conducted by the University of Louisville Environment Institute and The Nature Conservancy.

“We know Louisville Metro has been losing trees at an alarming rate.  As the Green Heart Project moves forward in the coming years, we will be able to have a better understanding on how greenery impacts the health of the people of our community while replenishing our tree canopy,” said Dorsey.

The Green Heart Project will examine, for the first time, if increasing greenness in an urban community will reduce the levels of air pollution in the neighborhood, decrease the risk of heart disease, and increase outdoor activity and relationships between neighbors.

Green Heart will help discover:

How to plant trees in urban communities to maximize the removal of air pollution,

If increasing green space affects the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,
If increasing urban green space reduces mental stress, enhances social cohesion, increases physical activity, and
If urban green space affects crime rates, property values, storm water runoff, energy use, and heat island effect.

Research teams with the project have already conducted health screenings with neighborhood residents and will recheck their biomarkers over time to determine whether the additional trees and shrubs improve their health, including cardiovascular health, diabetes, and other health indicators.

The Green Heart Project has a specific timeline:

Baseline measurements in 2018 and 2019

Monitor levels of air pollution around roadways and residential areas.
Recruit hundreds of people for the HEAL Health Study to see baseline health, stress levels, lifestyle and relationships, and disease risk.

Greening in 2019 and 2020

Plant thousands of trees, shrubs, and grasses to create a robust and sustainable ecosystem maximized to remove air pollution.

Monitoring in 2020 and 2021

Track changes in pollution, physical and mental health, and social change.

Comparison in 2022

Compare observed changes before planting and two years after planting

 

“Every neighborhood in our community is special and we all want a better quality of life,” said Dorsey. “Now, we will be able to see through the Green Heart Project if the beauty of trees and greenery not only improve our neighborhoods but our health as well.”

For more information about the Green Heart Project, go to: https://louisville.edu/greenheart/about

 

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