Welcome to California Urban Forests Council’s new campaign, “Invest From the Ground Up!” My name is Nancy Hughes and I’ve been the executive director of the Council for over seven years.

If you are like me, you’ve probably had that experience where you’re driving or walking through some neighborhood here in California and you say to yourself, “This street is so inviting” or “What a nice neighborhood!” If you stop and think about it, what was it that made that neighborhood so nice? Maybe it was the houses? Or maybe it was a small restaurant or café on the corner with people sitting outside talking? What I’ve found over the years is that when people are asked that question, they often overlook one of the most fundamental reasons that a neighborhood is nice—the trees!

In a way, trees are like thread—they run through and hold so many pieces of our community together and yet, people don’t notice them unless they stand out. In fact, now that I’ve mentioned them, can you imagine a nice neighborhood without trees? And as you start thinking more about it, do you find yourself remembering that tire swing in your childhood backyard or your best friend’s tree house growing up? Or maybe a recent picnic under a shady tree or a stroll down a tree-lined street on a warm summer evening?

Day-to-day, trees may be part of our background and landscape, but they play an important role in keeping us healthy and safe. And the range of benefits they provide us isn’t limited to our health and quality of life—there is a big financial benefit to them as well, from increasing the value of our homes to increasing revenue for our local businesses. The benefits are truly amazing, especially given how little it costs us to plant and care for them.

That’s why, as California’s oldest organization dedicated to the planting, growth and care of trees in our urban areas, we have started “Invest From the Ground Up.”  We want Californians like you to have the information you need to protect and grow one of the most cost-efficient investments we can make in our homes, our local businesses, and our community: Our trees, parks, and green spaces.

Over the next year, “Invest From the Ground Up” will start working with communities across California to spread this message. We will partner with existing city, community, and professional organizations, along with business owners and homeowners, to help show that when we invest from the ground up we not only help create and nurture great neighborhoods, we get back much more than we put in.

When it comes down to it, it’s the trees, parks, and green spaces in our neighborhoods that help make the places where we live feel like home. We have all seen how small changes can make a big difference in the health and vibrancy of our neighborhoods. One poorly landscaped lawn or a vacant house with broken windows can bring down property values all around, just as freshly planted trees and well cared for local parks can bring up the value of homes. When people take care of their own property and come together to make sure our community property gets that same kind of care, we all benefit in big ways. Struggling neighborhoods can positively change seemingly overnight, just as good neighborhoods can become great—and we can do it without breaking the bank.

So join our campaign today and help make our communities thrive, our local businesses flourish, and the places where we live feel even more like home. Please explore our website to learn about “Invest From the Ground Up,” the many benefits of trees, and how you can participate in the campaign. You can also contact us at InvestInTrees@caufc.org or 415.479.8733.  We’d love to hear from you!

Nancy Hughes
Executive Director, California Urban Forests Council