Urban greening.

With a multimillion-dollar investment in underserved Louisville neighborhoods, the Green Heart Project seeks to demonstrate the scientific link between nature and human health. By tackling two critical problems – air pollution and chronic disease – with a new, nature-based approach, Green Heart hopes to create a platform for major change. The project is a clinical trial where trees are the medicine. What we learn in Louisville could improve the lives of thousands of people and potentially millions or billions worldwide.   

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) supports nature in all its diversity. We envision a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to enrich our lives. TNC is committed to sustaining urban ecosystems that sit at the crowded nexus of the natural world and the built environment. TNC exists to improve the lived experience of urban species – humans and others – in the places they call home and to protect their right to continue to thrive in these places. 

Baseline measurements.

Canopy Assessment: Hyperspectral Imaging 

To begin, the Green Heart team conducted a canopy assessment. The results of the assessment showed the research team the existing variety of tree species and how healthy or stressed those trees were.  

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Tree Health Assessment: YouthBuild + TNC Summer 2019 

In 2019, the Nature Conservancy and YouthBuild Louisville partnered to conduct a tree health assessment. The data SummerWorks employees collected and contributed to the Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities citizen science app will assist Green Heart in caring for the existing neighborhood trees. 

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HTHC Factsheet 

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Emerald Ash Borer Treatment 

In addition to planting, Green Heart works to maintain the health of existing trees. In partnership with Louisville Grows, the Nature Conservancy is managing the mapping and treatment of ash trees located on private and public properties in Green Heart communities. In total, this partnership has protected more than 100 ash trees from the emerald ash borer. For additional information or to see whether your ash tree is a candidate for treatment, please contact christopher.chandler@tnc.org 

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Residential Planting 

Louisville Grows is partnered with Green Heart to plant trees on residents’ property and in Louisville Metro rights-of-way. Louisville Grows has been knocking on doors since fall 2019 to see if residents of the Green Heart neighborhoods would like to become “treecipients.” 

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Highway Planting 

TNC and the Kentucky Department of Transportation have partnered to include scientifically driven and environmentally sound plantings along the Henry Watterson Expressway. As part of Green Heart Louisville research, the goal of this effort is to reduce particulate matter and volatile organic compound air pollution. Plantings will likely occur between Exits 10 and 11 of the Watterson. 

Scientific Planting  

The tree-planting stage of the Green Heart Louisville project is underway, with hundreds of trees in the ground and thousands more scheduled for planting. How do Green Heart Louisville and its partners determine which trees to plant? The answer is rooted in science. Read more from TNC’s Kentucky Field Notes Spring/Summer 2020 (download the newsletter here). 

Check out these other reports from TNC

Discover more about the relationship between greenness and health.

A Review of the Health Benefits of Greenness
Current Epidemiology Reports

Is Tree Loss Associated with Cardiovascular Disease Risk in the Women’s Health Initiative? A Natural Experiment
Health & Place

The Association between Neighborhood Greenness and Cardiovascular Disease: An Observational Study
BMC Public Health

Green Space and Stress: Evidence from Cortisol Measures in Deprived Urban Communities
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Roadside Vegetation Barrier Designs to Mitigate Near-Road Air Pollution Impacts
Science of the Total Environment

Herbaceous Plants as Filters: Immobilization of Particulates along Urban Street Corridors
Environmental Pollution

Additional articles and information.