Introducing the Community Impact Tree

Many years ago, I sketched out a visualization of how social and environmental impacts interelate as a living tree.  It helped me think about how diverse impacts can be closely connected, especially in how individual well-being connects with community well-being and the environment.  People I showed it to liked how it made them think about impacts that they wouldn't otherwise associate with their work.  Today I have made that sketch into a more legible drawing using Paint.! Not the most high end graphic design program, I know, but it no longer resides in a folder near my desk.   Each impact area also has many dimensions to explore which are already part of the Impact Mapping Worksheet and are listed below.  


How to use the tree?

Beyond imagining sitting under the tree on a lovely summer's afternoon, you can scan the tree illustration to find the words that you identify with your impact. Look at the related branches to identify other facets that relate. For instance, if you know that you are contributing to the personal growth and well-being of employees that you hire, consider how you may also be contributing to (or doing things to support): building relationships, health, mobility and economic security.   Click here to download the tree and impact dimensions.


Impact Area

Impact Dimensions

Air Quality

- decrease in air pollutants, smog, acid rain
- improvements in air quality

Biodiversity/ Habitat protection

- health of biological systems
- diversity and viability of species

- use of native vegetation
- reduction of invasive species,
- habitat protection

Civic engagement

-level of citizen involvement in civic life - political and non-political.

Climate Change

- reducing the possibility of significant, long-lasting changes in the climate of our planet.

- adapting to changes in the climate

Community Well-being

- encompass all other parts of the tree relating to the healthy functioning of individuals, communities and the natural world.


-shared traditions and values
-heritage and place
-the arts
-diversity and social history

-cultural identity and preservation.

Economic Development

-job creation
-infrastructure development

Economic security

financial resources  necessary to participate fully and with dignity in community activities

Energy use

-reduction in the amount of energy used
-change in the type of energy used
-increase in energy  from more environmental benign sources

Equity and freedom

-equal rights and opportunities
-freedom of association
-social justice

Food security

-quality and sustainability of the food supply
-people's access to a healthy diet
-food safety

Greenhouse gas emissions

--reduction in GHG gases by cutting emissions or improving sinks.


-physical and mental health

-health conditions
-activity limitations

Leisure and Recreation

-free time
-opportunities to express creativity
-opportunities to satisfy spiritual, physical and community needs

Materials use

-decrease in the amount of materials used (per good/ absolute)
-decrease persistent and synthetic (toxic) materials and increase in more benign materials (organic and biodegradable)
-use of recycled materials, and those from well managed eco-systems


-the ability to move in the community

-barrier-free transportation
-environmentally responsible transportation

Personal Growth and Well-being

-emotional well being
-strength to overcome helplessness
-meaning and connection in life

Property rights

-individual or community ownership and possession of land

-cultural and intellectual property

-indigenous entitlements

Relationships and Supports

-personal relationships
-community supports


-incidence of crime
-consumer protection
-freedom from harm
-life without fear and violence


 access to secure and affordable housing

Soil quality

- improvements in soil quality
- limiting damage to soil 


reduction in solid waste to landfill through recycling, and reuse.

Water quality

-limiting water pollution

- improvement in water quality

Water Use

-decrease in water use for human consumption and manufacturing

-using water in a way that doesn’t compromise ecosystem functioning of the water system


My sketch, circa 2008




blog type: 
Issues & Ideas
impact mapping