Statement by Josh Morris of Seattle Audubon on NPI/Tree PAC Tree Protection Poll

Statement: July 2021 Tree Protection Polling Results by Josh Morris of Seattle Audubon

Sept. 15, 2021 

Seattle Audubon is a 105-year-old environmental nonprofit that advocates and organizes for cites where people and birds thrive. Since neither people nor birds can thrive without a healthy, growing, and well-distributed urban forest, protecting Seattle’s trees is important to realizing our mission.  

Trees, especially big mature trees, are icons of the Pacific Northwest. Many people love our trees and want to protect them at a greater level than we currently do. We see that clearly from the overwhelming support for improved tree protection, planting, and funding among participants in Northwest Progressive Institute’s July 2021 poll. 

The results show more than 80% of respondents in support of maximizing tree retention during planning and development, and in support of focusing urban forestry investments in low-income and historically redlined neighborhoods. The first is needed to slow the threat of indiscriminate tree loss, and the latter is needed to address a glaring environmental injustice.  

These results come as we increasingly recognize trees as important community assets whose benefits extend well beyond the parcels in which they are rooted. They promote good health and well-being. They bring bird song into our neighborhoods. They keep us cool in the heat and help prevent flooding. Trees are essential. And they are threatened in great numbers across Seattle from weak policy and weaker action.  

Despite more than a decade of promises, Seattle leaders have failed to improve tree protections. Seattle can densify, prevent sprawl, protect more trees, and plant more new ones. We just have to plan for it. Washington, D.C., for example, continues to increase both population density and tree canopy cover through strong tree protections, dedicated funding, and coordinated urban forestry management. We can learn for their example. We can and should do better by our urban forest and for the communities, present and future, that depend on it. 

Seattle Audubon hopes these poll results encourage City leaders to act and hold each other accountable for adopting improved tree protections without further delay. 

 Please send questions to Joshua Morris, urban conservation manager: