Urban Deforestation, Reforestation
A multi-state team from universities in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland are working to advance the profession of urban forestry. The team led by researchers at Virginia Tech has launched Urban Forestry 2020. The project aims to examine the challenges faced by the urban forestry profession and devise strategies for advancing the profession.
The project also includes representatives from Virginia State University, West Virginia University and the University of Maryland. It is partially funded by the U.S. Forest Service.
Urban forestry is the management of trees and green spaces in communities to enhance quality of life and protect the environment.
Team officials say that while the profession has advanced rapidly over the last 20 years, there are many issues that need to be faced to move it forward.
“The beauty of the urban forestry profession is its interdisciplinary nature,” said Susan Day, associate professor of urban forestry at Virginia Tech and the project’s lead investigator. “People from diverse backgrounds work together to solve problems with a critical urban natural resource that has a big impact on our day-to-day lives. But the field’s interdisciplinary nature is also a challenge when it comes to networking and education, and the profession is experiencing some growing pains.”
The team has assembled a committee to help guide the project, bringing together leaders in urban forestry and related fields like urban planning, landscape architecture and civil engineering to examine recruitment into urban forestry, accreditation of university urban forestry degree programs, and professional credentialing and networking of urban foresters.
Fortunately, many sustainable cities are taking steps to minimize their impacts on the environment and to minimize the threats that natural disasters pose to them. Our urban forests are a vital part of the equation. Saving and planting as many trees as possible offers multiple benefits, including:
- Minimize energy consumption by strategically placing more trees near residential and commercial properties to help us minimize energy use;
- Maximize tree placements along roadways, railways, and other open spaces to help offset carbon dioxide gases, while minimizing the heat-island effect in many urban areas;
- Promote urban agroforestry initiatives;
- Generate more oxygen, while minimizing air pollution;
- Create and preserve urban habitat for wildlife; and
- Use tree-planting events to help educate communities about carbon neutrality and energy management.