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Project Green Space



Did you know? Daly City is the 9th most densely populated city in the entire country. And, the City experiences one of the highest pollution burdens within the County of San Mateo. We need trees in our urban environment now more than ever!

Help make Daly City greener, cleaner, and more resilient - for generations to come!

Sign up to adopt a free tree or volunteer to plant trees and rain gardens!

Email Stephen Stolte at sstolte@dalycity.org or call (650) 991-8126. 

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Urban Trees in a Changing Climate – Creating a Resilient Urban Forest in Daly City

As the largest city in San Mateo County and the 9th most densely populated in the country, Daly City is truly an impervious, concrete jungle. The urban canopy is estimated to cover less than 5% of land area. Vegetation that does exist is largely introduced ornamentals and invasive species. Urban trees have steadily declined from drought, disease and damage. Our new climate reality of increasing drought conditions destabilizes the landscape and can lead to localized flooding, landslides, and accelerated cliff erosion, especially during increasingly intense weather events that are projected under climate change. As the “Gateway to the Peninsula”, two major highways spew air pollution into densely developed areas, harming public health. Our shrinking urban forest simply cannot counter these impacts.

Growing the Urban Forest

Project Green Space has kicked off what will become decades of work to green urban spaces in Daly City. The City will rely heavily on all of you to help make this happen as volunteers in your communities. Does your street need trees? Do you know of vacant land that might be a good planting site? Want to help spread the word about the benefits of trees? We welcome you all to join Project Green Space.

Urban trees have tremendous value for public health, neighborhood beautification, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

  • Trees filter air pollutants, including particulate matter. This is important because parts of Daly City experience some of the highest pollution burdens in the entire County, mostly due to air pollution from highways.
  • Trees suck up stormwater after heavy rainfall events (which are expected to intensify) and release it slowly, reducing flood risk.
  • Trees stabilize soils prone to erosion.
  • Trees and rain gardens purify water of contaminants and help recharge depleted groundwater resources.
  • Trees capture and store carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.
  • Trees are even good for business! People visit and spend more money in business districts that are tree-lined.
  • Green spaces help alleviate many of the stressors in a dense, urban environment.

Essentially, trees act as a form of insurance against the impacts of climate change and pollutants. Without them, we are completely exposed. 

Our current urban forest consists of 7,415 individual trees that have a combined estimated value of $18,802,720! This valuation, however, does not account for all of the myriad of benefits that trees provide.

The chart below depicts the top 10 species in Daly City. As you can see, the top three species account for almost half of all our trees! The most widespread tree, the Monterey Pine, is dying off from a pitch canker disease, which spreads quicker in drought conditions. This species alone, some 2000 individuals, is estimated to be worth $5,000,000 to the City. Our next two predominant species, Monterey Cypress and Eucalyptus, are each valued between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000 each!

tree inventory

Overall, we do not have a diverse urban forest and this has much larger implications for long term resilience. Forests that are not diverse succumb to external shocks quickly, like disease, drought, and storms. 

Next Steps

Many of the trees we plant today will mature in 20 to 30 years, becoming stunning landmarks in our City. Interesting and rare species that thrive in our climate will inspire future generations and dramatically enhance our urban environment. Have you ever been awe-struck by a giant, mature tree? Think about how that sense of awe can enhance our everyday experience, and how natural features like large trees can bring nature back into our daily lives.

Daly City resides in one of the world’s best horticultural regions, as one of the five Mediterranean climates that include California, central Chile, the Western Cape of South Africa, Southwestern Australia, and the Mediterranean Basin. These small regions are home to some of the most diverse plant communities on Earth. We will draw upon this diversity to create a resilient urban forest, even in the face of climate change.

Download the Daly City Drought-Tolerant Tree Guide!

The tree guide contains detailed profiles, with photos, of species that are best suited to Daly City’s unique (and foggy!) climate. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE TREE GUIDE.  This is a compressed file that is 17 MB. Photo quality is slightly reduced. 

In preparing for a changing climate in which drought conditions become more prevalent across California, we want to ensure that the tree selections we make in current day will have the best chance for long-term survival. California landscapes are evolving with the changing climate. As you will see on the tree list, it is still very possible to plant a range of truly beautiful trees that will withstand the effects of climate change.

If you’re interested getting involved, please email or call Stephen Stolte, at sstolte@dalycity.org or (650) 991-8126.  

tree collage reduced pixels