New Study by UMass Amherst Researchers Examines Urban Tree Planting Initiatives in the United States | News and Media Relations Office


AMHERST, Mass .– A one-of-a-kind national survey of city-wide urban tree planting (TPI) initiatives reveals potential gaps in stewardship investments and institutionalization that raise questions about long-term sustainability of the programs. In a study recently published online by the journal Urban forestry and urban greening, researchers led by Theodore Eisenman of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst examined the typical characteristics of urban IPT in the United States.

The new article, which follows an exponential proliferation of interest in IPT over the past decade, presents the results of a survey of 41 IPTs, covering six themes: context, dates and objectives, public, financing and governance, plantation and stewardship. Survey respondents identified more than 115 traits that distinguish IPT from the typical urban tree planting activity, suggesting that IPT is a distinct form of urban forestry and urban greening.

“More than two-thirds of TPIs have separate funding from traditional urban forestry, and almost half of TPI funds come from municipal budgets,” report Eisenman and colleagues. “This suggests that TPI is successful in raising funds to improve urban tree planting, but the lack of institutionalization and funding for traditional infrastructure raises questions about long-term sustainability.”

Eisenman, assistant professor of landscape architecture at UMass Amherst, was joined in the study by former student Tamsin Flanders and Richard harper, associate professor of environmental conservation extension at UMass Amherst, as well as Richard Hauer at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Katherine Lieberknecht at the University of Texas at Austin.

They found that IPTs are effective in mobilizing political and financial resources for program launch, tree purchase and planting, but their findings suggest underinvestment in stewardship activities such as watering. and long-term maintenance, and a need for greater investment in the social infrastructure that underpins green infrastructure.

“A range of civil society actors are engaged in public awareness raising and project initiation, but only three stakeholder groups (forestry / park departments and private citizens) and two stakeholders (forestry and parks) are very or moderately engaged in stewardship activities such as watering. and the technical maintenance of the tree, respectively, ”they write. “These distinctions are also reflected in the allocation of funds: around two-thirds of TPI’s funding is spent on initial activities such as purchasing trees (49%) and planting (18%), while activities stewardship such as watering and maintenance account for only 5% and 7%, respectively. “

In addition to providing a database for IPTs at this precise point in time, the authors are establishing an agenda for new research and practice. This includes greater community participation in the initial IPT goal-setting process, increased research to determine whether IPTs are meeting their intended goals, and greater scientific attention to medium and small municipalities, where the population lives. most people.

The full article, “Traits of a Bloom: A National Survey of Urban Tree Planting (IPT) Initiatives in the United States,” is available free online via Eisenman’s scientific works page.


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