PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland is a green city, but a new report found that the tree canopy is actually in decline.

However, Portland Parks & Recreation is working to reverse the trend by planting hundreds of trees all around the city.

East Holladay Park in the Hazelwood neighborhood is one site that PP&R has paid special attention to in their effort to get more of Portland, especially the east side covered in tree canopy.

100 young trees were planted three years ago by Urban Forestry contractors and then taken care of and watered every summer for three years and now, they’ll be signed off as “established”.

East of the Willamette River and especially east of 205, Portland has much lower canopy cover.

Alex Javier with PP&R said the reason for this is historic redlining which the city hopes to rectify, improving equity.

“The distribution of trees is really linked to historic red lining so trying to reallocate and redistribute those tree resources so everyone has those physical and mental health benefits is really the goal of our urban forestry equity plan,” Javier said. “If you think of a bird looking down at the sky in some areas you might see that half of the landscape is covered by tree canopy like the Southwest Hills or closer to Forest Park and then over here in this neighborhood in particular it’s more like 19-20%.”

Javier tells us greenery offers significant physical and mental health benefits to the community like offsetting the urban heat island effect and offering other qualities such as mental health improvement and slowing storm water infiltration.

One of the city’s goals is to have a third of the land mass covered by tree canopy equally distributed, and Portlanders can get involved.

The free tree program for parks and planting strips is a function of the Urban Forestry Team.

They rotate and focus on neighborhoods with lower income and higher percentages of people of color all in an effort to improve equity.

Portland residents can also get their hands on two free yard trees every year as part of the Yard Tree Giveaway Program, and you can find out more on the City of Portland’s website.

During winter 2023-24, PP&R said they plan to plant and hand out over 3,500 new trees across the city, with hundreds of trees going to school properties, parks, and priority neighborhoods.