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Healthy Places: Planning for Heat, Trees, and Open Space

What we are doing to increase open space, cool our neighborhoods, and protect Bostonians from the impacts of climate change.

Healthy Places is a collaboration between three City plans. These plans:

  • expand the urban tree canopy
  • plan for open space, and
  • help Bostonians thrive in a changing climate.  

Heat affects everyone in Boston, but it affects our vulnerable populations first and worst. Together these plans will build a safe, healthy, resilient, and accessible city for everyone.

How are heat, trees, and open space connected?

Our quality of life depends on so many factors. These include a healthy environment, economic security, and a resilient and accessible city landscape. Healthy Places will look at cooling the city, expanding the urban forest, and improving the park system. We want to support an environmentally just and resilient city that raises our quality of life.

Climate change increases heat

Heat affects everyone in Boston. But, it affects our vulnerable populations first and worst. Historically underserved neighborhoods and communities experience increased heat due to:
  • lack of trees and open space, and
  • more concrete, asphalt, and built infrastructure.

Trees and green, open space cool the City

Natural systems are important to reduce heat. They provide cool spaces for recreation and community-building. These natural systems include:
  • the urban tree canopy
  • green space, and
  • wetlands and Urban Wilds.

Why is planning important?

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Improved physical and mental health
  • Better air quality and carbon mitigation
  • Physical and mental health benefits of spending time outside
  • Lower temperatures also decrease heat-related illnesses
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Safe and healthy spaces for all Bostonians
  • Increased community gathering spaces
  • More opportunities for recreational programming
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Equitable solutions

Working together so that every resident and neighborhood has equal investment for

  • high quality of life
  • access to green space, and
  • protection from climate change.

Climate Ready Boston

Climate Ready Boston is the City’s initiative to prepare for the near- and long-term impacts of climate change.

Climate Ready graphic

We approach protecting our communities from climate change with a layered approach. The holistic plans include:

  • prepared and connected communities
  • resilient infrastructure
  • adapted buildings, and
  • protected shores.

Boston’s parks and urban tree canopy are a critical to the City’s layered approach to climate resilience. Expanding and maintaining open space and the urban forest can help:

  • mitigate heat
  • manage stormwater
  • reduce air pollution, and
  • provide many other benefits.
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