An Environmental Assessment of School Shade Tree Canopy and Implications for Sun Safety Policies: The Los Angeles Unified School District

isprsISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 2015, 4(2), 607-625

By April Moreno, John Tangenberg, Brian N. Hilton, and June K. Hilton

“In an effort to reforest school sites with limited resources, communities and non-profits have implemented projects on Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school sites, often without thought for the best location, long-term maintenance, or appropriateness of the tree type. Although studies exist related to sun safety policies in schools, there has been little emphasis on the environmental public health benefits of trees in public schools. The LAUSD School Shade Tree Canopy Study was a response to this issue in which data was analyzed (a total of 33,729 trees in the LAUSD were mapped) regarding tree canopy coverage, pervious/impervious areas, and buildings for 509 elementary schools to assess urban forestry management issues and environmental injustices within communities of the district.”

Website showing map layers, data, and report access.

Website showing map layers, data, and report access.

“The results of these analyses indicate that there is a wide range of school site size, tree canopy coverage as a percentage of school site size, tree canopy coverage as a percentage of play area, and percentage of unpaved surface play areas (e.g., (~20%) of the schools have both (0.0%) tree canopy coverage play areas and 100% paved surfaces). This finding alone has implications in how the LAUSD may implement sun safe polices which would aid in preventing skin cancer and other adverse health outcomes for students within the school district.”

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