Creating an Urban Oasis
The Cummins campus in Guarulhos, Brazil, is near several major highways and São Paulo’s international airport. Traffic in the area is frequently bumper-to-bumper. Green space is limited.
But over the past three years, nearly 800 Cummins employees have planted some 5,000 trees in the area. Not only has their work helped beautify the city, the air is cleaner, dust has been reduced and temperatures are down in some areas.
“When we communicated that we were planning an activity to plant trees, the engagement of our employees was just amazing because we understand that this generates not just environmental and social benefits, but contributes to improving the quality of life for our community,” said Ligia Almeida, Community Involvement Team Leader for the Guarulhos campus and a project team member.
The tree-planting effort started in 2010 when employees at the Cummins campus formed a partnership with local municipal officials and the Environmental Department of Guarulhos. Through this partnership, employees planted 2,100 trees near the Cummins campus.
The following year, the partnership grew when an environmental education component was added, reaching more than 400 local school children. Some 400 employees also planted 2,000 more trees throughout the city.
Then, in 2012, the project, led by Cummins employees Alexandre Balista and Priscila Papazissis, added yet another dimension. Nine hundred and fifty more trees were planted, and the employees, together with the Environmental Department of Guarulhos, determined key areas of the city in which to plant in order to produce the greatest environmental impact.
“Planting trees provides other benefits, such as air purification, noise reduction, softening the force of winds that provide habitats for birds, protecting groundwater, increasing air humidity, providing shade and serving as a dust barrier,” Almeida said.
Guarulhos has two major parks, Parque Estadual da Cantareira and the Parque Ecológico Tietê, located on opposite edges of the city. As the areas around the parks became more urbanized, the park ecosystems became isolated and vulnerable.
The Cummins project sought to ease the migration of wildlife and rejoin the flora by creating an ecological corridor, or “eco-aisle,” between the two parks. More than 300 employees helped form this eco-aisle, which officials believe is already starting to have a positive impact.
Temperatures were taken in the areas with new trees and compared with historical data on those sites. The research showed, on average, temperatures were about 8 degrees cooler in the shaded areas. Employees say they feel like they are making a difference.
“We feel proud about the transformation that we, as Cummins employees, are making in our community,” Almeida said.