Creating More Equitable Urban Forests by Understanding and Responding to Historical Trauma

The author, Christine Carmichael (far left), with a group of volunteers at a street tree-planting event in Detroit, Michigan in 2015. All photos courtesy of the author.

Creating More Equitable Urban Forests by Understanding and Responding to Historical Trauma

By Christine E. Carmichael, Ph.D., Founder and Principal, Fair Forests Consulting, LLC

For the last couple of decades, research documenting inequitable urban forest coverage by race and income in the United States has grown. Far from being an issue relegated to one city or region in the U.S., it is now clear that whiter and wealthier neighborhoods across the country have more tree canopy coverage than neighborhoods with predominately non-white residents and those with lower median income.[1] [2] [3]

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Top Five NYSUFC Blog Posts of 2020

B&B (balled-and-burlapped) trees are useful for certain species at certain sizes in spring vs. fall, but bare root is often a workable, much more affordable and volunteer-friendly alternative. Photo Courtesy Nina Bassuk

#1 Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards”

This post resonates! It’s been viewed nearly 7000 times since its publication on the blog in 2015. There’s a paucity of science-based information about “fall hazards” on the internet; this post seems to be filling a need. Dr. Nina Bassuk contributed the seminal section, “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” to the piece. Look for an update to this popular post in 2021.

Beattra Wilson opened the 2018 Partners in Community Forestry Conference in Irvine, California with her plenary presentation.

#2 Beattra Wilson’s Steadfast Path: An Urban Forestry & USDA Forest Service Journey

Readers were keen to get to know Beattra Wilson in this piece she wrote about her youth in Louisiana, her education and work trajectory, and her biggest aspirations for USFS Urban and Community Forestry, which she leads at the national level. Her story and her vision make for compelling reading.

In his capacity as Arborist for the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, James Kaechele demonstrated how to properly plant a limón sutil tree (Citrus aurantifolia) to a community in the Peruvian Amazon.

#3 Partnerships, Fruit Trees, and Land Restoration in the Peruvian Amazon, with James Kaechele

What does land restoration with fruit trees in the Amazon have to do with urban forestry? Everything! Council Board Member James Kaechele draws fascinating parallels and takes us along for the journey, with gorgeous photos.

Artist Sergey Jivetin creates elaborate engravings on the shells of seeds, including a series carved on American chestnut seeds depicting The American Chestnut Foundation’s restoration efforts.

#4  American Chestnut Update: Big Funding News, Public Comment Needed, Seed Engraving, and a Podcast

News of the incredibly promising American chestnut restoration efforts by The American Chestnut Foundation, SUNY-ESF, and other partners is always popular on the blog. Folks want this species back, providing all the beauty and myriad ecosystem benefits for which it was beloved before chestnut blight ran rampant.

Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus) foliage is darker, glossier, rounder, and more leathery than native fringe tree (C. virginicus) foliage, and its flower petals have rounded ends and appear less feathery than those of the native tree. Photo by Bill Haws

#5 ‘Regal Prince’ Oak, Chinese Fringetree, ‘Mushashino’ Zelkova, Hackberry

These profiles of underutilized urban trees were the most popular among the blog’s tree profiles to date. ‘Regal Prince’ is a hybrid of swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) and fastigiate English oak (Q. robur f. fastigiata). Chinese fringetree is considerably more resistant to emerald ash borer than the native fringetree. ‘Mushashino’ zelkova (2016) and hackberry (2020) have both been voted Urban Tree of the Year by the Society of Municipal Arborists.

Town of Bedford Plants “Generation Oak” with Council Grant Support

Planting the swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) they’ve named the “Generation Oak,” the Town of Bedford celebrates the legacy that tree planting leaves for future generations, and gives a delightful nod to Star Trek Next Generation.

Town of Bedford Conservation Board Chair Simon Skolnik said, “A healthy swamp white oak can live for up to 300 years. That puts its old age into the 24th Century. To put that into context, that will be the century that Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard takes the Starship Enterprise ‘Where no one has gone before.’ That expression, ‘where no one has gone before’ is a perfect segue into why we are calling this swamp white oak the ‘Generation Oak.’ Our generation, the adults standing here today, have planted it. We will nurture it. Water it. Watch out for any disease, and will prune and treat it. If it is to grow and flourish, it will need the help and care of the generations represented today by our children and our grandchildren, and then their children and their grandchildren, and then their children and grandchildren.”

The Town of Bedford in Westchester County was awarded a tree grant on September 23, 2020, from the New York State Urban Forestry Council under our program to celebrate those communities that have been a Tree City USA for at least 5 years, and to support their on-going community street tree and forestry programs.

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Beacon’s Fall Planting with Aid of Council Grant

Photo and Text Courtesy of Beacon Recreation Director Mark Price

The Beacon Tree Committee, with the help of the Department of Public Works, planted trees in celebration of Fall and future shade at the South Ave Park Basketball Court on Friday, November 6.

Three specimen-size red maples (Acer rubrum) were planted for their fall color, shade, and year-round handsomeness. Red maple has the greatest north-south distribution of all tree species along the East Coast, ranging from eastern Canada south to Florida and west to east Texas. This popular ornamental tree grows 40-60 ft. in cultivation, occasionally reaching 100-120 ft. in the wild.

The City of Beacon wants to thank the NYS Urban Forestry Council and their Tree City USA Reward Grant program for the award of $1,000 in funding for our tree planting project.

Volunteers Restore Manorhaven Preserve on Long Island with Native Plants

Interpretive signage for the native trees volunteers planted in the new Native Plant Garden in the Manorhaven Nature Preserve.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” Kahil Gebran

Nassau County’s location on Long Island and Port Washington’s location in Nassau County. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Rcsprinter123

According to a 2017 article on the blog Patch: Port Washington, Long Island edition, the Native Plant Garden in Manorhaven Nature Preserve was a project initiated in 2017 by Nassau County Master Gardener Pat Valente and realized with the help of many fellow volunteers. To date, the community has planted more than 1000 native plants, including eighteen species of Long Island native trees, in the Preserve. 

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Jamestown Community College Plants Sugar Maple to Celebrate 11 Years as Tree Campus USA

Council Board Member Lori Brockelbank sent news from Western NY: Jamestown Community College celebrates 11 years as a Tree Campus USA!
Present at the Jamestown Community College planting of a Highland Park Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum ‘Hipzam’) in honor of 11 years of Tree Campus USA status were students, staff, Lori Brockelbank, Jamestown City Mayor Eddie Sundquist, and JCC President Daniel DeMarte.

Cassadaga Honors Loss of Young Girl with Tree Planting, Celebrates First Year as Tree City USA

The Village of Cassadaga in Chautauqua County recently celebrated Arbor Day and dedicated a newly planted dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) to a seven-year-old Cassadaga girl, Emmaline A. Wilcox, tragically killed in a car accident last spring. Nate Murray (above left) from the Region 9 DEC Office attended the event and helped plant the dawn redwood tree. The Village also celebrated their first year as a Tree City USA.

Family members of Emmaline Wilcox gathered to remember and celebrate her with the planting of a dawn redwood tree.

Thank you to Lori Brockelbank for forwarding news and photos.

 

Successful Tree Planting, Rochester’s Urban El Camino Trail in DEC Conservationist Magazine

See the recent online edition of NYS Conservationist for interesting features, including one coauthored by DEC UCF staff Christina McLaughlin and Dan Gaidasz on “How to Plant a Tree Successfully.” There’s also a piece called “Strides through an Urban Trail” about Rochester’s El Camino: Butterhole-Seneca Park Trail, a multi-use pedestrian greenway that was adapted from an old railroad line. Other features treat environmental justice in NYS, planting for pollinators, dogs that detect invasive insects, monarch butterflies, the Tonawanda Wildlife Mgmt Area, and New York’s damselflies and dragonflies. Check out this superb publication.

“Fall Planting and a Deeper Look at ‘Fall Transplanting Hazards'” is Blog’s Most-Viewed Post

Dr. Nina Bassuk, at left, with students of her Creating the Urban Eden class in fall of 2019. Nina contributes the seminal “Five Branches of Transplanting Success” section of the “Fall Planting and A Deeper Look at ‘Fall Hazards'” post.

Fall planting season is underway, and many NY towns and cities are taking advantage of this season’s combination of still-warm soils with cooler air temps, which lends itself to success with fall planting of a variety of tree species in parks and along streets. Since the Council blog was launched in 2014, the most often viewed post (6323 views!) has been this one, about Fall Planting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards.” We will do an update this winter, but the existing content remains solid and clearly has been of practical value to many folks. Check it out if you haven’t already!