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.
By David Moore, Senior Tree Supervisor, City of Oakland, California Photos Courtesy David Moore
NYSUFC Past President (2015-2017) David Moore, 34, is the recipient of the 2019 Arbor Day Foundation Trailblazer Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in arboriculture and/or urban forestry by professionals under 35. After working for ten years in New York City for New York Restoration Project and then for NYC Parks, David is now the Senior Tree Supervisor for Oakland, CA in their Public Works Department. Within his first year there, David secured a million-dollar grant for a citywide tree inventory and 50-year urban forestry master plan for Oakland. Receiving the Trailblazer Award sparked in David a period of reflection about his career and mentors thus far. Here, he offers seven pieces of counsel for young or new city forester colleagues.
Find or develop your niche by putting yourself at the intersection of two different specialties.
About 40 invited guests attended the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) reception on June 6th in the Arsenal at Central Park to honor David Moore’s recognition as ADF 2019 Trailblazer. The Trailblazer Award recognizes outstanding achievement in arboriculture and/or urban forestry by professionals under 35. At the reception, a video (above) about David’s work was unveiled, David gave an extemporaneous, from-the-heart speech, and attendees enjoyed a reception on the Arsenal roof, overlooking the southeast corner of Central Park.
The Council is jubilant that Past President David Moore has won the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) Trailblazer Award, given to a professional under 35 who has made exceptional contributions to arboriculture and/or urban forestry. A video about David’s work is in the making (and we’ll share here on the blog as soon as it’s available). From the ADF press release:
“The title of Senior Tree Supervisor at the City of Oakland, California, belies David Moore’s age and accomplishments. During his tenure at New York City Parks, David developed a sophisticated system of tree procurement that is a model for urban foresters across the country, and he served as co-chair of the MillionTreesNYC committee. He also served as president of the New York State Urban Forestry Council from 2015-17, where he was highly regarded for his organizational and leadership skills.”
The Trailblazer Award description: “This award recognizes an individual under the age of 35 who has demonstrated leadership in forestry, community forestry, research, or tree care during the past five years. The Award winner will exhibit a collaborative spirit that inspires others to give their time, effort, and resources to improve our understanding of trees, tree planting, or tree care.”
Our Council blog was viewed more than 14,000 times in 2015! Here are the top five posts:
Sumana Serchan: Get to Know Her! Sumana Serchan is an urban forester with NYC Parks and Recreation. Sumana has a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources/Conservation from the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (University of Vermont). She grew up in Kathmandu City, Nepal.
Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards” NYC Director of Street Tree Planting Matt Stephens and Taking Root Editor Michelle Sutton coauthored this story questioning commonly held beliefs about “fall hazards,” mostly as it applies to B&B trees, but they also discuss the interaction of the fall season with other production methods, like bare root. Nina Bassuk helped craft the section called “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” which should be of interest to anyone planting trees.
A New Method for Streamlining Tree Selection in NYCCouncil President and NYC Parks Senior Forester David Moore shares how the City streamlined its system for making tree species selections for 25,000 street tree plantings a year using an ingenious categorization of “biotopes.” A municipality of any size can use this article to think strategically about their tree selection process.
At the 2015 ReLeaf Conference at SUNY ESF, it was fitting that ESF grad David Moore should be elected our new president. You can learn more about David from his profile last year on the blog.Here is David’s acceptance speech.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve our state’s urban forestry council as president. It is my intention to uphold, and propel into the future, the values and efforts of those who came before me. Humbled by my peers and predecessors who share my mission and have fought hard to establish the principles and reputation of our young industry, I am grateful for your support.
You have taught me by example a pay-it-forward mentality that is rare in most industries. Early in my career I was nurtured by strangers who recognized that I shared a common mission with them. They took no issue with the fact that they would receive no material reward for helping me be successful in my urban forestry career. They helped me find the technical resources and guidance to do my job solely because we live on the same planet and are working towards benefiting the same environment. This ethic of selfless dedication is what draws me to our council and propels me through hard times in my everyday work.
How fortunate are we to have found each other as professionals and partners. In this life, there is no individual effort that can surpass the potential and actual accomplishments of a cooperative group. Imagine if the Lorax in the Dr. Seuss book could have teamed up with a team of other Lorax? How would the story have ended? That is the question we must ask ourselves as we consider the pursuits and collaborative potential of our urban forestry council.
We are at a pivotal point in history that makes our council’s work exceptionally relevant and necessary. Our state and nation are undergoing a swell in urban population growth–our partners at the U.S. Forest Service who have quantified current trends and projected future trends can verify this. Every town and city that has existing infrastructure is due for a swell over the next 30 years. Our state’s largest city, which accounts for 45% of our state’s population, is projected to grow by a million more people between 2007 and 2030.
The generation of foresters who came before me laid the groundwork in establishing urban forestry as a strategy for city planning and not just city beautification. Through tireless research and demonstrative efforts, they have validated tree planting, management, and maintenance as necessary measures for making town and city life functional and desirable.
Similarly to how networks of influential and dedicated conservationists, foresters, and policy makers helped develop public policy that protected the Adirondack Park, we now have the opportunity to provide advocacy for protecting the value of forests where the average New Yorker experiences them in everyday life–in the towns, villages, and cities where we live.
We have every right to feel optimistic about our progress and our potential. In New York City, the past ten years have provided us legislation that protects biodiversity in parkland and natural areas, that protects street trees at their full replacement value, and that mandates a street tree be planted every 25 feet along the frontage of any new real estate development. These laws represent a shift in cultural perception of the value of trees in our lives and a justification of our efforts. We aren’t just planting trees anymore, we are establishing green infrastructure by installing air filters, street cooling features, and storm water filters. The justifications for our efforts continue to be quantified in new and exciting ways as technology and research evolve with the times.
Knowing the importance and potential that progressive, technically informed tree planting and management will have on our state in the face of urbanization, can we afford to not help each other succeed? The benefit we bring each other through support, camaraderie, and networking is ten-fold the cost of the time it takes. Our strength is in our diversity of experience and in numbers. Our call to action is the need to establish livable, desirable, sustainable communities in the face of urbanization. It won’t take rocket science, but it will take tree science. It’s a technical field, but also a quite natural one.
With these words, I wish to unite us by our common interests and intentions of creating a better world for future generations through urban forestry. Together as a diverse group, seeing our differences as our strengths and our commonalities as our life blood, we are equipped to carry on our state’s tradition of environmental greatness through the 21st century.
We can count on our NYC urban forestry colleagues to be constantly innovating. This article by NYC Urban Forester and NYSUFC Executive Committee Member David Moore first appeared in City Trees, the magazine of the Society of Municipal Arborists. It generated a lot of positive feedback.
In the article, he shares how the New York City Parks Department streamlined its system for making tree species selections for 25,000 street tree plantings a year. Moore says, “We hope that our system provides useful insights that can be adapted and customized to the needs of other cities undertaking street tree planting.” A municipality of any size can use this article to think strategically about their tree selection process.
The MillionTreesNYC initiative was catalyzed by research that shows on average, New York City street trees currently return $5.60 to the community for every $1 spent on management.1 In the course of fulfilling the mission of MillionTreesNYC, NYC Parks Department foresters are tasked with designing planting spaces and selecting tree species for each site, then overseeing construction and community engagement.
Two factors that affect plant selection in NYC: to guarantee biodiversity, we use over 250 different tree species, cultivars, and selections grown under contract by tree nurseries in the region. Second, the planting sites that we survey have varying environmental constraints.
Selection can be a simple task on a tree-by-tree basis, but this is not efficient when it comes to making thousands of selections per season. We needed a decision making protocol to ensure consistency and accuracy throughout the urban forestry program, while considering the reality of our foresters’ time constraints. We also wanted to optimize the net benefits of our tree plantings by systematically maximizing each planting site’s potential.
David Moore is a city forester at the New York City Parks Department and serves on the Executive Council of our NYS Urban Forestry Council. How did he get here? What’s great and challenging about it? What are some of his other passions and interests that might surprise you?
What were your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in urban forestry? David Moore: Well, I never could have predicted that I’d be working in this field, but I always enjoyed trees and had an interest in biology. I can recall some really exciting science teachers in middle school and high school that helped spark my interest. By the time I was 12 or so, I started spending my summers at camp in the Adirondacks where I could ramble around the mountains and lakes and learn to be a real outdoorsman in all the primitive splendors of the North Country. Those experiences really laid the groundwork for my future path in forestry.