Philadelphia Towards Racial and Environmental Equity (Philly TREEs): how a medical school can advance health equity through urban forestry in Philadelphia, PA, USA

Elsevier, The Lancet Planetary Health, Volume 7, September 2023
Gotschall J.W., Zhao M., Wilson C., Moore Z., Ayeni V., Rosenbach M. et al.

Inequity in access to urban greenspaces might contribute to health disparities in the USA via multiple pathways. Academic medical centres can promote health equity in their surrounding communities by partnering with community organisations to improve greenspace access in urban environments. Academic medical centres are also uniquely positioned to advance health-equity leadership among the next generation of doctors through medical-education initiatives; of particular importance is that medical professionals are involved in advocating for the expansion of greenspace access due to its direct relationship with human health and wellness. Furthermore, by focusing educational, research, and service endeavours on addressing the most important health issues within their communities, institutions could allocate some of their resources towards community greening as a form of preventive health investment. This Personal View describes our medical-student-led pilot project Philadelphia Towards Racial and Environmental Equity (Philly TREEs) at the Perelman School of Medicine (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA), which aims to improve tree equity and community wellness in Philadelphia. We highlight this project to show how academic medical institutions can help cities to achieve urban tree-canopy goals in an equitable way through community partnership and address disparities in the environment and in health.