A man plants a tree in a urban garden on a sunny day.
Planting an Urban Farm TNC staff plant trees at Jubilee Community Church in North St. Louis during a volunteer day. © Kristy Stoyer/TNC

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The Nature Conservancy releases the St. Louis EcoUrban Assessment

An interactive tool visualizing environmental challenges and opportunities in the St. Louis region.

Today, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) released the St. Louis EcoUrban Assessment Tool. The interactive tool includes GIS data on air quality, asthma rates, flooding and stormwater issues, food access, tree canopy coverage and other environmental and socioeconomic factors. It covers both St. Louis County and City in Missouri along with St. Clair and Madison counties in Illinois.

Informed by the findings from the Environmental Racism in St. Louis report, TNC collaborated with local partners to create the tool to visualize intersections between several social, economic, ecological and public health challenges in the region. It also serves to identify which communities are most impacted by those challenges to help drive resources to the frontlines of the issues, increase awareness and visibility of the challenges, and make the data included more readily accessible and user-friendly to the public.

“The tool aims to move beyond challenge-mapping and includes community asset mapping, such as the InvestSTL Neighborhood Organization Map, to point to where there are organizations and initiatives working in these areas, and where collaborations can be built to co-create solutions,” says Rebecca Weaver, The Nature Conservancy’s cities program manager in Missouri. “It not only lends itself to TNC’s work but can be used by partners and other community stakeholders to build power for change.”

Map of St. Louis region with shadings and dots representing different data layers of the tool.
General map of St. Louis region
EcoUrban Assessment Tool The data layers depicted in this graphic show locations of public schools (blue dots), block groups with more factors contributing to air pollution vulnerability (red shaded areas), and areas most at risk for pluvial and fluvial flooding (green, yellow and blue shaded areas).

Leah Clyburn, Beyond Coal organizer with Sierra Club Missouri says the tool will help support her work and strengthen partnerships in coalition to best support community. “As an environmental justice organizer in St. Louis my role involves many things, but mainly working with all stakeholders in amplifying public health concerns related to environmental injustices.”

Partners like Forest ReLeaf of Missouri agree. “Our Forest ReLeaf team has eagerly awaited the official launch of the St. Louis EcoUrban Assessment Tool,” says Meridith Perkins, executive director for Forest ReLeaf of Missouri. “The streamlined, open-access platform will serve not only as a great way for us to identify projects but will also easily demonstrate why priority projects have been selected with our community partners and funders.”

Perkins adds that the tool will help improve both project efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring more meaningful and coordinated efforts.

Jenny Connelly-Bowen, executive director for Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis (CBN) says one of the most important features of the tool is the way it maps place-based assets like schools, faith-based institutions, and community-based organizations alongside the data on environmental challenges, since these local partners are critical for creating community-driven solutions.

“CBN recognizes that environmental justice issues intersect with place-based community development work on many levels,” says Connelly-Bowen. “This new tool will help all of us better understand the unique challenges that each neighborhood in our region is facing, and serves as a sobering reminder that communities of color remain on the front lines of the climate crisis.”

The tool is publicly accessible at nature.org/EcoUrbanToolSTL

The following organizations contributed data and input for the creation of the St. Louis EcoUrban Assessment Tool: Community Builders Network; Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School of Law; Metropolitan Congregations United; Missouri Coalition for the Environment; The St. Louis Association of Community Organizations; The St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative; United Congregations of Metro East; U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter’s Green Schools Quest

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.