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Friends for Tree Equity, Illinois

Conversations happen all the time. Sometimes they go some place, sometimes they go no place, and sometimes it takes a while for them to come to fruition.

Friends for Tree Equity Illinois works with partners, community groups and municipalities to preserve, protect and expand trees and tree canopies in all areas in downstate Illinois, particularly in underserved communities, in order to protect the environment and human health.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) successfully passed the groundbreaking Climate and Equitable Jobs Act in the fall of 2022. This bill focuses on energy and jobs. Recognizing the need for nature-based solutions, conversations in the Downstate Caucus of the ICJC led to the formation of a Natural Solutions working group, whose conversations then landed on tree planting. Much discussion followed, with several communities considering a project. Eventually, the Carbondale area partnered with the Jackson County Housing Authority and Trees Forever to plant trees in the Bridgeview public housing community in Murphysboro. You can read about that project here.

We learned a lot, about what to do and what not to do, and some of the challenges and pitfalls.  Over the past 18 months, we broadened our connections with the Morton Arboretum and Trees Forever, and determined we had a role to play in ensuring trees were equitably planted in underserved and under-resourced communities downstate. Once funding became available through the U.S. Forest Services (via the Inflation Reduction Act), we were off and running, planning our launch via our first webinar.

We hope to provide the tools, resources and encouragement needed by downstate communities, and use our networks to make the connections to funding and technical support offered by Faith in Place, Trees Forever, and the Chicago Region Tree Initiative of the Morton Arboretum. Use our contact form to get in touch with us.

We were formed to address the lack of trees downstate where redlining and other discriminatory policies have resulted in substantially fewer trees in neighborhoods with more low-income families and people of color. This prevents people from accessing the health, social, economic, and environmental benefits trees provide.

Our Team