An article about SUNY-ESF alum and Council Past President David Moore appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of ESF Magazine, a publication for alumni and friends of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
The Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) keeps us posted on the federal funding for UCF. There’s good news in this year’s update. They say, “These gains (and level funds) don’t happen in a vacuum. Thank you all for your work this year to help us spread awareness about the importance of investing in programs that support urban and community forestry efforts across the country. We look forward to working with you all to make further strides in the new year!”
Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill on December 19 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, which includes a number of exciting wins for SUFC priorities. Here’s a quick rundown:
In “New Goat Crew Arrives on Lookout Hill”, Prospect Park Alliance tells how goats continue to aid in forest restoration after Hurricane Sandy by munching on invasive plants–a quarter of their body weight’s worth each day! The ruminants have been observed to be helpful in the mission but this time, the Alliance has partnered with USFS to do a controlled study. In 2017, goats were rotated through a series of plots on Prospect Park’s Lookout Hill. The health of these “goat plots” is going to be compared over time to “goat-less plots” where Alliance staff have cleared the invasive vegetation manually. Another good article about this ongoing research is “These Adorable Goats Are Helping to Restore Brooklyn’s Last Natural Forest.”
In “Can Hungry Goats Restore Urban Forests?” writer Jessica Leigh Hester describes how officials are using a herd of goats in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to browse invasive plants that took hold after Hurricane Sandy blew down trees, leaving open earth exposed to sunlight. The herd is on loan from Green Goats Farm in Rhinebeck, New York. Using goats for urban vegetation management hasn’t always turned out well, but this project seems to be on the right track.
In “What are Trees Worth to Cities?” Syracuse-based lead researcher David Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station talks about i-Tree, the tree software that he helped develop. He goes on to talk about the critical importance of assigning a dollar value to our urban forests and the many benefits they provide—then sharing that data with key decision makers. “Money drives decisions,” Nowak says.
In “Why Conserve Small Forest Fragments and Individual Trees in Urban Areas?” Dr. Mark Hostetler says, “For many developers and city planners, it takes time and money to plan around trees and small forest fragments. Often, the message from conservationists is that we want to avoid fragmentation and to conserve large forested areas. While this goal is important, the message tends to negate any thoughts by developers towards conserving individual mature trees and small forest fragments.” Hostetler goes on to discuss why forest fragments are important; he goes into depth about the role of forest fragments in the lives of migrating birds but also touches on the many other cumulative ecosystem benefits we know that urban trees/forest fragments provide, including carbon sequestration and shade.
In “Long-term Outcomes of Forest Restoration in an Urban Park,” NYC and USDA Forest Service Researchers compared restored and unrestored forest sites 20 years after initiating restoration. The sites are located within the Rodman’s Neck area of Pelham Bay Park, in the northeast corner of the Bronx in New York City. Some of the major implications for restoration practice that the researchers concluded from the findings of this study are that:
Urban forest restoration practices such as targeted removal of exotic invasive species and planting native tree species can increase species diversity and vegetation structure complexity. These effects can be seen two decades after restoration is initiated.
Targeted removal of exotic invasive plant species alone (i.e. without planting native trees) can increase numbers of exotic invasive shrubs and vines.
Urban forest restoration requires some level of continued maintenance to ensure success. Additional studies are needed to determine optimal levels (intensity and frequency) of intervention.
In “Online Tree Planting Program Software Applications” (pp 12-15) Plan-It Geo Founder Ian Hanou shows how two community forestry groups—Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri—used Cloud-based applications to accomplish their tree planting goals. He also provides an accessible primer on these tools.
At the 2015 ReLeaf Conference, you will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the SUNY ESF Chestnut Research and Restoration Project. Why is this research so critical? Why is bread mold key to the restoration of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata)? Watch these videos, and just try not to become infected with enthusiasm for this effort!
On ReLeaf Thursday, take a tour with Dr. Chuck Maynard of the laboratory and greenhouse where this groundbreaking research takes place. On Friday, hear the keynote talk from Maynard and Dr. Bill Powell, codirectors of the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project, about restoring the American Chestnut.
“In a Queens Forest, Compiling a Picture of Urban Ecology,” New York Times, December 2, 2014. Urban Forest as canary in the coalmine for environmental health; using high-tech sensors to monitor microclimate. Includes quotes from NYC Chief of Forestry, Horticulture and Natural Resources Bram Gunther.
On March 4, NYSUFC President Andy Hillman attended the Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) first-ever Urban Forest Council Steering Committee meeting. The other participating state councils were from NC, PA, WI, CO, and CA. Hillman says, “The meeting affirmed for me that our Council is part of a larger urban forestry movement that could benefit from more cross-pollination and sharing of ideas.”
In that spirit, it seems fitting that as our own NYSUFC blog launches, we check out the blogs and websites of other state urban forest councils. What are some of the most interesting and innovative things they are doing?