An international expert on livable cities told a St. Louis audience that more trees should top the list of ways to make the city even more vibrant and enjoyable to reside, visit and do business.
Opportunities for walking and biking, ample parks and community gathering spaces like coffee shops were other elements highlighted by Guillermo Penalosa, executive director of the nonprofit 8-80 Cities and a former parks and recreation commissioner for Bogota, Colombia.
According to David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Penasola stressed that focusing on these elements rather than per-capita income will help cities thrive. When a city has the amenities people want, the economic piece fall into place.
“We live in an ever more globalized world,” Penalosa said. “Quality of life is the most important tool of economic development.”
If St. Louis wants to retain its best-and-brightest, he said, it has to focus on quality of life.
The role of urban forests in increasing quality of life is well appreciated by the more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities and the people who call them home. When we think of our favorite shopping districts or residential blocks, they are often the places full of healthy, well-maintained trees – even if we don’t realize it at first.
Penasola is right. If we want strong economies in our cities, we need to make them more livable and inviting. And if we want boost livability, it starts with trees.
The photo above, courtesy of Washington Magazine, shows the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, a two-year Tree Campus USA.