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urban forest

Improving Urban Health through Green Space

While city living has its share of conveniences, stressors like traffic congestion, pollution, and weakened social ties threaten the health and well-being of many urban dwellers. Such factors can lead to a range of mental and physical health concerns. For example, stress is linked to negative impacts on immune functioning.

Let's Carry the Values of Tu B'Shevat with Us Every Day

Dignitaries from the White House and USDA held a tree planting ceremony Thursday beside the National Mall to commemorate Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of the Tree. Thinking about the people planting that young Redbud tree to honor the conservation ethic of the Jewish community, I was reminded of just how important trees are to all of us.

In my job as the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, I’m charged with leading the agency that manages 193 million acres of forests that belong to the American people, as well as providing assistance in the management of 500 million acres of state and private forests and 100 million acres of urban forests. That’s a tremendous responsibility for the agency, one that often requires thinking in terms of the big picture, and how our decisions will impact the landscape in 30, 50, or even 100 years.

Urban Trees Store Carbon, Enhance the Environment, Provide Economic Benefits

Whether they are ringed by wrought iron or suspending a swing, urban trees are first and foremost trees. In fact, they are all working trees.

Consider, for example, carbon storage. From New York City’s Central Park to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, America’s urban trees store an estimated 708 million tons of carbon, valued at $50 billion. Annually, these trees absorb an estimated 21 million tons of carbon, a value of $1.5 billion.

Who Says Research Can’t be Fun?

If Morgan Grove had 30 seconds to brief any high-level official, he would simply describe his job as working to make cities better and safer places for people to live.

“Our Forest Service research benefits the public in many ways -- including having clean water to drink, safer living environments and recreating outside for healthier lives,” said Grove.

Because of Grove’s love of the great outdoors, he’s observed, learned and shared a lot of his scientific expertise during his 17 years with the U.S. Forest Service. He is a research scientist at the Northern Research Station’s field office in Baltimore, located in one of the most heavily forested and heavily populated areas in the United States.

Forest Service Funds Urban Tree Projects in California

Urban forests are a vital part of our nation’s cities – they clean the air we breathe, capture pollution and stormwater and beautify our neighborhoods. Urban trees save cities millions of dollars in energy costs every year just from shade alone. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has called urban trees “the hardest working trees in America.”

Tidwell underscored that statement during a recent visit Oakland, Calif. to view Urban Releaf’s greening and community-building efforts. He presented Kemba Shakur, executive director, a check for $181,000 to support education and demonstrations projects, as well as tree planting and maintenance throughout the Oakland area.

Forest Service Chief Tidwell tours the District of Columbia’s urban forest

District of Columbia State Forester Monica Lear recently hosted U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Forest Service staff in a tour of the District for the National Association of State Foresters (NASF).  The tour highlighted diverse urban and community forestry projects and partnerships in the city.

At the 2011 NASF Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Chief Tidwell spoke of the significance of the nation’s 100 million acres of urban forests where 80 percent of Americans live, work and play under their canopy. Urban trees make up an important part of the framework of green canopy in metropolitan areas connected with national, public and private lands and they are important to the health of the environment we share.

Urban Trees are Hard at Work in Washington, D.C.

My team at the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station recently completed a study of the District of Columbia’s urban forest using the publicly available, free iTree software suite. Understanding an urban forest's structure, function and value can promote management decisions that will improve human health and environmental quality. Urban trees clean our air, capture stormwater and provide huge energy savings.

i-Tree Findings Make the Case for Trees

Like in many communities, tree care in Casper, Wyo. was largely reactive and just one of many duties performed by the Public Services Department staff. Year after year of seeing trees removed without a plan for replacement worried the city staff members who performed tree work. No one, however, had any basis for articulating an argument that Casper’s prized legacy—their tree canopy—was poised for imminent decline. The last large scale tree planting initiative in Casper was at the end of World War II and their urban forest, full of Siberian elms, was not aging gracefully. For a few staff members, finding a way to make a compelling argument to care for community trees that was cost effective, accessible and credible became their personal charge.