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.
A Steadfast Path: My Urban Forestry and USDA Forest Service Journey
By Beattra Wilson, Photos Courtesy of the Author
Beattra Wilson began her career with the USDA Forest Service in 2002 in Atlanta as an urban forestry trainee; she is now the Forest Service Assistant Director of Cooperative Forestry and National Lead for Urban and Community Forestry. We asked Beattra to share some of her educational and career trajectory and what excites her about her work. Here she is in her own words.
I grew up surrounded by pine forests in a small town in Louisiana called Oakdale. I was introduced to agriculture education and career opportunities beginning in fourth grade through my involvement with 4-H. I competed at the parish and statewide fairs in the 4-H Sew with Cotton and Public Speaking contests.
Those 4-H experiences helped propel me to hold leadership roles in high school. I also had a pivotal experience at a summer agricultural camp at Southern University and A&M College, a historically black college and university (HBCU) system, where I learned in depth about urban forestry and other agriculture professions. (This summer agriculture institute continues to serve 40-50 students each summer, and the Forest Service is a supporting partner.)
As I was looking into college degree programs, based on my test scores and GPA I was recruited by two colleges for urban forestry and agriculture economics and five colleges for engineering. Ultimately, I chose to study urban forestry because it seemed like a perfect merger of my deep connection to agriculture along with my desire to have a career that afforded me the opportunity to live in a big city.
The Forest Service has released several new products that offer guidance on how to track the long-term health of trees in your community. Using this guidance will help inform tree maintenance and management programs and support the research community in studying trends in tree growth and mortality at the local level and nationally. You can find the Field Guide, resources, and how-to videos here.
An article by USDA Forest Service research scientists Michelle Kondo and colleagues in the journal Lancet Planetary Health created a global buzz in reporting results of a new citywide health impact assessment of achieving a 30% canopy cover goal in the City of Philadelphia. If done at a neighborhood scale it would cut heat-related illness and reduce premature deaths by 403 residents, including 244 in areas of lower socioeconomic status (95% confidence).
The study conclusion is that urban greening programs can be a means to improve public health, decrease health inequalities, and promote environmental justice. To quickly see canopy cover rates and socio-economic status in your community, visit i-Tree Landscape and enter your zip code or community name, or better yet, complete your own Urban Tree Canopy Assessment.
From David Sivyer, Urban and Community Forestry Program Manager for the Eastern Region of the U.S. Forest Service
Greetings Urban and Community Forestry Program Managers and friends,
Urban and community forests are a significant resource in North America and are likely to continue to increase in significance based upon demographic, economic, and environmental trends. As such, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is hosting a webinar on June 9, 2020 from 1:00-3:00 PM eastern time to explore the potential value of collaborating to develop a customized urban forest certification standard. Input received from participants during the webinar will inform a task work group that is being convened to assess the need for the standard.
The past few months have highlighted the importance of parks and nature in cities. Urban natural areas are critical as refugia, protecting biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change all while contributing to the health and wellbeing of nearby residents.
However, natural areas are threatened by development as city populations grow, and are susceptible to invasive plants and fragmentation all of which can lead to a decline in forest health and the benefits they can provide.
In this webinar, Sarah Charlop-Powers and Dr. Clara Pregitzer of the Natural Areas Conservancy will introduce the challenges and opportunities of managing forests in cities, including 25 case studies from 12 cities across the U.S., and Forest Service research ecologist Dr. Rich Hallett will present a silvicultural framework for assessment and management of forests in cities, adapted from rural forest management practice. Together, the team will introduce viewers to a new collaborative network of cities and share successful strategies from across the nation.
The USDA Forest Service is requesting applications for the Fiscal Year 2020 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Grant Program. A fabulous USFS GLRI StoryMap highlights contributions of this grant program to Great Lakes restoration goals.
The U.S. Forest Service anticipates that up to $4.2 million in new funds will be available for competitive grants in four program areas:
Forest Insect and Disease Mitigation
Reduce Runoff from Degraded Sites through Green Infrastructure
Protect and Restore Coastal Wetlands through Healthy Tree Cover
Restore Resilient Riparian and Shoreline Forests
The FY 2020 GLRI Request for Applications (RFA) Instructions, agency-specific forms, and other resources are available on their GLRI RFA website.
Applications must be prepared and submitted through Grants.gov by 6 p.m. Eastern on June 26, 2020. The opportunity number in Grants.gov is USDA-FS-2020-GLRI.
They encourage all applicants to work with their State forestry agency to determine how their project fits into the goals and objectives of the State Forest Action Plan. If you have questions, please reach out to your Field Representative or Sheela Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-999-1997).
Across the country, urban forestry employers face an unprecedented labor shortage. More than 7,000 positions are projected to open in tree maintenance and plant health care through 2026, not including another 95,000 positions in landscaping.
Who will fill these slots? Well, the right people may already be right around the corner from where more trees and tree maintenance are needed most. Learn more in the Career Pathways Action Guide, recently launched on the Vibrant Cities Lab!