Improving Health Benefits in

Underserved Communities Through
Carbon Sequestration

Soh-Yoke Bravo, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida
International University, Miami, Florida 33199

Global Changes

• Changes in forest land
contribute to global GHG
• Urbanization is one human
activity that contributes to
forest loss

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Land Use Change in Urbanization
in Florida

What are the Health Impacts?

When forested lands are converted to urban areas, carbon sequestration by forests decreases,
greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion and atmospheric pollutants increases as ventricular
traffic increases. These effects can impact human health.

Underserved communities can especially
be vulnerable to climate change impacts

Simple Solution
• These effects can be minimized by
reforestation of vacant land in urban areas.
• This can be especially beneficial in
underserved communities of urban areas
where access to quality healthcare may be
limited and opportunities to maintain a
healthy lifestyle stressed because of lack of

• Explore how the health of vulnerable populations can be
improved through reforestation of vacant land in urban
• Improve greenspace for underserved communities

• Conduct a small scale reforestation study in a
retirement community in the Town of Medley
• Scale it to the state of Florida

Starting with a local
underserved community

Medley Lakeside Retirement Park Prior to Reforestation

Reforesting a retirement community in the Town of

Approx. area of urban, vacant land = 0.02 ha

Objective 1:
Estimating carbon sequestration using IPCC 2006
GHG methods

Medley Lakeside Retirement Park After Reforestation
(Still Under Construction)

Calculations – 1. Carbon stock of a
reforestation project in Medley
The total dry aboveground biomass of a mature subtropical forest
= 210 tons/ha
The total dry belowground biomass of a mature subtropical forest
= 210 * 0.28 (AG/BG ratio)
= 59 tons/ha
The total carbon stock of a mature subtropical forest
= (210 + 59 tons mass/ha) * 0.47 tons C/tons mass
=126.4 tons C/ha
The total CO2 sequestered/yr
= (126.4 tons C/ha * 0.02 ha ÷ 20 yr) * 3.67 CO 2/C
= 0.5 tons CO2/yr

Objective 2:
Scaling the Pilot Study to Florida

Calculations – 2. Scaling the impact
to the State of Florida
Total Area of Vacant
Urban land in Florida

Area of high and low impact urban land

Percent of urban land that is vacant in the SE
US (Pagano 2000)

1,657,722 ha * 19.3% =
319,940 ha vacant land
in urban areas of Florida


Calculations – 2. Scaling the
impact to
The total carbon stock of a mature subtropical forest(aboveground
and belowground dry mass)
= 126.4 tons C/ha
The total carbon stock of a mature temperate forest (aboveground
and belowground dry mass)
= 75.2 tons C/ha
(126.4 tons C/ha * 63988 ha) +(75.2 tons C/ha * 255952 ha)
=27,335,703 tons C in reforested area of Florida when mature

Calculations – 2. Scaling the
impact to the State of Florida
What’s the CO2 reduction impact?
27,335,703 tons C * 3.67CO2/C =
20 yrs

5.016 million tons CO2 per year
in Florida
Total CO2 that could be sequestered per year by reforested urban, vacant lands in the state of Florida

Green Health

• Exposure to greenspace reduces the following:
• Non-accidental mortality,
• Income-related health inequality’s effect on morbidity
• Blood pressure and stress levels
• Sedentary leisure time
(Kardan, 2015)

Cost Effective


Replanting and reforesting is a low cost means of reducing health related cost and
health-related expenses of citizens, with potentially greatest positive benefits for
underserved communities.

Special Thanks
• My mentor, adviser and professor, Tiffany Troxler from the SE Environmental Research Ctr. &
Department of Biological Sciences
• Mayor Roberto Martell and Mayor Assistant and Town Engineer Olga Quinn on behalf of the Town of
• Florida International University Global Civic Engagement Student Advisory Board Center for
Leadership & Service.
• Million Trees Miami, Adopt-a-Tree, and local nurseries such as Greendale, Canterbury Farms, and
Gilmer for donating trees and plants
• Volunteers for reforestation and construction

1st ed. HealthView Insights, 2015. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.
• Kardan, Omid, et al. "Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban
center." Scientific reports 5 (2015).
• Kautz, Randy, Beth Stys, and Robert Kawula. "Florida vegetation 2003 and
land use change between 1985-89 and 2003." Florida Scientist 70.1 (2007):
• Mitchell, Richard, and Frank Popham. "Effect of exposure to natural
environment on health inequalities: an observational population study." The
Lancet 372.9650 (2008): 1655-1660.
• Nowak, David J., Daniel E. Crane, and Jack C. Stevens. "Air pollution removal
by urban trees and shrubs in the United States." Urban forestry & urban
greening 4.3 (2006): 115-123.
• Pagano, Michael A., and Ann O'M. Bowman. Vacant land in cities: An urban
resource. Brookings Institution, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy,