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Increase Tree Coverage

Increase tree coverage in Sunnyvale to sequester carbon, regulate temperature, manage water runoff.

Photo of Mary BR
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How are you connected to Sunnyvale?

  • I live in Sunnyvale.
  • I grew up in Sunnyvale.

What type of applicant are you?

  • Community member

Stage of Development.

  • Idea with a working prototype

What problem are you aiming to solve? (100 words)

Sunnyvale needs more trees. The Sunnyvale Urban Forest Management Plan must be implemented and funded.

Tell us more about your climate strategy or solution (500 words)

Trees sequester carbon, filter pollutants, help regulate temperature, manage water resources by preventing runoff, and stabilize soil. They provide the added benefits of enhancing neighborhoods and raising property values. Sunnyvale needs to increase the tree canopy. This fact has been documented by the City and requested by many residents. Adding 29,000 trees to the city will increase the tree canopy to 20%. Sunnyvale approved the Sunnyvale Urban Forest Management Plan in 2014, which calls for the addition of 29,000 trees in Sunnyvale. The Climate Action Plan sets a goal to "Increase the number of shade trees planted in the community, and protect the existing tree stock." Where are these trees? When will these plans be implemented? Updated municipal codes to protect and promote trees are needed (and are called for in the Sunnyvale Urban Forest Management Plan). The City must commit funding and staff to carry out the plans.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (100 words)

Trees provide many benefits and is a relatively low-cost, long-term solution. Planting trees is considered one of the most cost-effective, high-impact actions to take to fight climate change. While the benefits of the trees are immediate, they increase over time and more than pay for themselves.

Explain how your idea would be implemented in Sunnyvale (700 words)

This plan would result in at least 29,000 new trees in Sunnyvale. Planting as many trees as possible as soon as possible will increase the impact. The City of Sunnyvale has the directive (Urban Forest Management Plan) and infrastructure to implement this plan. More staff and funding are required, however, in order to successfully plant 29,000 trees. The City of Sunnyvale should add personnel and funding to the trees department. Resources should be assigned to select, plant, and care for trees. Staff could work with volunteers to monitor tree health and with tree planting events. However, trees should continually be planted outside of organized events. The City should invest in a water truck (and appropriate staff) to maintain the health of trees. The City should update the municipal code to require street trees, forbid cemented parking strips, require trees in commercial parking lots, and require the preservation of trees during development. Trees should be planted by the City along streets and in parks. The City could partner with non-profits, residents, and businesses to subsidize the planting of trees on private property. Neighboring cities have made significant investments in their urban forests, with amazing results. While volunteer groups can make a big difference, the impact is much greater if the City funds and supports the tree planting efforts with staff and legislation.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (250 words)

The addition of trees will provide a big impact on areas of concern - trees sequester carbon, help regulate temperature, manage water resources by preventing runoff, and stabilize soil. Adding more trees will improve the health and beauty of the city.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of people affected. (250 words)

Advertising and outreach. Successful and public efforts will generate interest in the activities and increase support within the community.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (500 words)

This idea is very feasible. Neighboring cities have successfully implemented these ideas and there are models to emulate. This is not a new concept, and the implementation is not complicated. Other cities often contract with non-profits to manage the community tree plantings, but the city provides the funding. The funding and staff are the missing pieces in Sunnyvale. Palo Alto - San Jose - Sunnyvale - California - Most major cities in California have urban forestry programs

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (300 words)

This solution would require a number of volunteers and a commitment from the City to promote and fund this program. City staff would need to review and update the municipal code to protect and promote trees. City staff would be required to plant and maintain trees. City equipment would be needed to provide care for trees.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with our partners?

  • No, please do not share my contact information


Join the conversation:

Photo of NDEF Cameroon

Hi Mary BR,

We at NDEF Cameroon have read with interest about your project idea. Hope you are forging ahead with success! As regards tree planting, what tree species are you planting? Are they trees to meet specific needs or just trees to cover the terrain? We believe that when a farmer plants a tree from which they expect to derive some direct benefits, they would protect the tree jealously. Such trees could be for fruits, medicines and spices.

What about using tree propagation techniques such a grafting to produce tree seedlings that give results faster after planting? In fact grafting reduces the fruiting period to less than half! Nkeng Pius (Executive Director)

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