Where Women Choose to Walk: Paths to Improving Cities and Nature Series Underway

Dr. Adrina Bardekjian and Liza Paqueo are fabulous speakers and facilitators.

The monthly discussion series, “Where Women Choose to Walk: Paths to improving cities and nature,” is open to everyone at no cost. Participants are from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds ranging from the global north and global south, working in various sectors of urban environment and natural resource management including: forestry (urban and rural), mining, watershed, disaster, conservation, eco-tourism, stewardship, and more.

Please join them on March 8th for their next episode of “Where Women Choose to Walk: Paths to Improving Cities and Nature.” In celebration of International Women’s Day, this discussion will focus on motherhood in all its glory and struggles; topics include work-life-family balance; careers and workplace policies for support; identity shifts and cultural contentions; raising environmentally-inspired children; and alternative livelihoods during the pandemic.

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Urban Forestry Opportunities at Southern University Include Virtual Learning, Scholarships, and Degrees at the Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral Levels

NASA project team at Southern University Urban Forestry & Natural Resources Department at a wetland soil sampling day in 2019. Left to right: Simbrey Majors, who received a Master degree in Dec 2020; Zhu Ning – Institutional Principle Investigator (PI); Victor Rivera – LSU Co-PI; Chris Chappell-SU Co-PI; and Hande Suslu, who received a PhD degree in Dec 2020.

The Urban Forestry Department at Southern University is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but virtual and scholarship opportunities abound for folks from anywhere in the world. The 2021 BAYOU Summer Institute for high schoolers to explore careers in Urban Forestry will be virtual, and BAYOU is always free of charge for qualified applicants. In addition, scholarships are available for in-person pursuit of Bachelor degrees, and qualified applicants can obtain scholarships toward virtual pursuit of PhD degrees in Urban Forestry.

Southern University: Elevating Urban Forestry Education to New Heights 

By Dr. Zhu Hua Ning, Department Chair, PhD Program Leader, and ANSWERS Institute Director, Southern University Department of Urban Forestry and Natural Resources

Photos Courtesy SU Urban Forestry & Natural Resources

The Department of Urban Forestry and Natural Resources at Southern University and A&M College (hereafter, SU) offers Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs that are fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. As such, our Department’s programs offer the most comprehensive urban forestry higher education in the United States.

SU established the first Bachelor of Science in Urban Forestry degree program in the nation in 1992 with support from the USDA Forest Service and the Louisiana Board of Regents. The Master of Science program in Urban Forestry was approved in 1998, and the Urban Forestry PhD degree program launched in 2004. Every year since 2003 when the award was received, our Department has received funds via the “Department of Excellence through Faculty Excellence” award by the Louisiana Board of Regents. In 2015, SU honored our department with the Most Productive Department award. Our faculty members are nationally and internationally award-winning experts who provide the highest quality education and training for our graduates—and superb research to benefit our field at large.

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Yale Forest Forum Webinar Series on The Promise and Practice of Community-Based Forestry


Click here to see the full roster of talks and to register

The Yale Forest Forum (YFF) has a free spring speaker series underway, hosted by The Forests Dialogue and the Urban Resources Initiative, on The Promise and Practice of Community-Based Forestry. Join the series every Thursday through April 29 from 11:30am-12:10pm ET. (Note that there will be no webinar on April 8.) YFF talks are free and open to the public.

This Thursday, February 18th, Yale School of the Environment URI GreenSkills Manager Caroline Scanlan presents on “A University Model for Clinical Urban Community Forestry Training.” You can read about Caroline’s work in her recently published paper in Arboriculture & Urban Forestry.

More about the series:

Community-based forestry intends to create pathways for local people to have decision-making control of forest management. The key strategy of community-based forestry is to equitably empower all local stakeholders through a long-term, landscape-based, and inclusive approach to supporting local communities to secure their land and resource rights, stop deforestation, find alternative livelihoods, and foster gender equity.

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DEC Round 15 Urban & Community Forestry Grant Recipients

Snowy egret fishing on a section of the Bronx River. The Bronx River Alliance (bronxriver.org) was one of the recipients of a 2020 DEC-mediated grant, which will be used for tree planting in the Bronx River floodplain. The funds come from the NY Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced grant awards totaling $1.4 million for urban forestry projects across the state to help communities inventory, plant, and maintain public trees.

The 38 projects to receive funding were selected from a total of 154 applications, ranked by cost effectiveness, lasting benefits, use of partnerships, inclusion of outreach and education, and support from local stakeholders. The urban forestry grants complement DEC’s ongoing initiatives to address invasive species, climate change, environmental degradation, environmental justice, and urban sprawl. Over the last nine years, New York State has funded more than $11.4 million in grants to support projects with a total value of more than $18.3 million.

Grant recipients are listed by region.


Albany County

  • City of Albany – $75,000; Tree Inventory
  • City of Watervliet – $29,000; Tree Maintenance

Columbia County

  • City of Hudson – $20,000; Tree Inventory and Management Plan

Schenectady County

  • Town of Glenville – $20,000; Tree Inventory and Management Plan
  • City of Schenectady – $61,200; Tree Inventory and Management Plan

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Not Yet a Tree City USA? Apply by Feb 26 for 2021 NYSUFC Quick Start Grant to Help You Get There

The NYS Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for communities to hold a 2021 Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community-based forestry program. Communities can apply for up to $1,000. Funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service.  INFO AND BRIEF APPLICATION PACKET

Grant Goals:

The intent of this grant is to help municipalities establish a community forestry program and move toward becoming a Tree City USA Community. Tree City USA is a program of the Arbor Day Foundation. Please note that this Quick Start Grant is not associated with the Arbor Day Foundation nor is it part of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program funded by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund.

Communities are eligible if they intend to work toward Tree City status but are lacking any of the components of the Tree City USA program. The four components include having a tree ordinance, a tree board, $2/capita budgeted for trees, and an annual Arbor Day celebration. Definitions and details of those components can be found on the Tree City USA website.

Eligible projects include:
• planting trees (see the recommended resources listed in this notice to facilitate tree species selections to support urban forestry species diversity)
• holding an Arbor Day ceremony (does not have to be on the official Arbor Day which is the last Friday in April – April 30th for 2021) but please plan for a spring event

Eligible expenses may include but are not limited to trees, mulch, soil, printing of a program, advertising to publicize the event.
Communities that are currently a Tree City USA or are a recipient of previous NYS Urban Forestry Council Arbor Day Community Grants are ineligible.

Applications are due (postmarked) by 5pm on February 26, 2021. 🌳

2021 Quick Start Grant Application Package

Conifers for Urban Use: Abies concolor, with Jean Zimmerman

Mature concolor fir (Abies concolor) in Council Past President Andy Hillman’s yard. Photo by Andy Hillman

Concolor Fir (Abies concolor)

By Jean Zimmerman, Council Board Member and Commercial Arborist for SavATree

Some might see the concolor fir or white fir (Abies concolor) only as the perfect holiday tree. The soft silvery needles, the graceful form, and perhaps more than anything its scent, redolent of tangerines—all create a specimen that begs to be set up in a corner of the living room, bestrewn with decorations, with gaily wrapped gifts underneath. We’ve had one for many years during the holidays and it always brings pleasure.

At the cut-your-own tree farm we patronize, the saw-bearing hordes descend upon the generous grove of concolors, and a tree-toting worker told me it is in popularity second only to the fraser fir (A. fraseri). President of the New York State Urban Forestry Council Karen Emmerich of Emmerich Tree Farm said, “We sold a lot of concolors last holiday season, and they have grown in popularity over the years. More and more growers are planting them. They don’t have the disease issues that blue spruces have, and they have that lovely bluish tint to their needles. The upper branches don’t shade the lower branches (causing them to develop that scraggly look) like the spruces. My husband Kurt calls them ‘ugly ducklings,’ because when they are young they are kind of goofy looking, but after five or six years they really start to look great.”

Now take a look beyond the holiday season. Concolor is a fir that can be enjoyed on your property spring, summer, and fall as well as when snow sparkles on the ground. In 1953, naturalist Donald Peattie recognized the beauty and adaptability of the concolor and predicted that its future “lies in its value as an ornamental.” Its conical shape, blueish silver color and ability to thrive even on harsh sites has made the tree a favorite for urban landscaping. Full sun is best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day, but it can also do well in part shade. The tree’s preferred pH range is acidic to neutral on moist, well drained, loamy soils, and its hardiness range is Zone 3 to 7.

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Sublime “Downtown Doors” Series Photo-Documents Staten Island Trees & Homes from 1940 to Today

This towering black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) in Staten Island’s West New Brighton neighborhood (at left, in 1940; at right, in 2020) really caught my attention this season. Although black tupelo generally occupies wet woods habitats, it can thrive under a variety of soil conditions. I’m gratified to see this eastern U.S. native tree species being planted more in cities. The fall color is spectacular. —John Kilcullen

One of my favorite urban forestry-related Instagram accounts belongs to John Kilcullen, an ISA Certified Arborist and Municipal Specialist and Director of NYC Parks-managed Conference House Park in Tottenville, Staten Island. In his free time, John prolifically and affectionately photographs the landscapes and architectural gems of the New York City borough of Staten Island, including its doors (hence the major theme of his Instagram, “Downtown Doors.”) This artistic focus of John’s will come as no surprise given that he is also the President of the Preservation League of Staten Island.

In the waterfront community of Midland Beach (formerly known as Woodland Beach) on the east-central coast of Staten Island, you can find this pin oak (Quercus palustris) standing tall and proud. A tree species that is native to wet growing conditions, this specimen has thrived and survived the many obstacles a shorefront environment can present: hurricanes, flooding, salt spray, and sandy, nutrient-poor soil. This octogenarian shelters a circa-1930s bungalow constructed in the shoreline resort community of Midland Beach. At the turn of the 20th century, the east and south shores of Staten Island had many summer communities. Woodland Beach and its immediate neighbor Midland Beach were a true study in contrast: Midland Beach had its casinos with its day-tripper “glitz and glamor” while Woodland Beach billed itself as a family beachfront retreat. In the late 1940s, the community began to change from a summer to a year-round population. In 1940, the house was occupied, and then owned, by Irish immigrant Patrick J. Rigney and his wife Elizabeth along with their three children (Elizabeth and her three year old daughter, Elizabeth, are believed to be shown in the 1940 photo.) —John Kilcullen

One sub-series within “Downtown Doors” is a phenomenal suite of posts that juxtapose pictures of homes—and the trees in front of them—from 1940 and from today. The historical images are tax photos from the NYC Records & Information Services Historical Records Department; they meet John at his nexus of interests perfectly, providing architectural documentation as well as evidence of trees that were small in the 1940s but that now are, in many cases, mature focal points of their own.

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