Diverse perspectives and approaches to learning and knowing can strengthen our work in urban and community forestry. Indigenous and local knowledge is embedded in the concept of biocultural stewardship – an approach to working with communities recognizing that the stewardship of place is inseparable from the stewardship of people, and that cultural resources are as important as natural resources.
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.
At the 2019 NY ReLeaf Conference last July in Rochester, Dr. Leslie Brandt presented a fascinating talk about her work on urban forest adaptation to climate change, and she offered up powerful resources and tools to our community. Here’s a brief summary of those resources compiled by blog editor Michelle Sutton in consultation with Dr. Brandt.
The Climate Change Response Framework (forestadapation.org) is a collaborative, cross-boundary approach among scientists, managers, and landowners to incorporate climate change considerations into natural resource management.
The Framework’s partners are numerous and wide-ranging, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and dozens of state and local governments, Native American tribes and tribal organizations, universities, and ecological and urban forest institutes and organizations.
The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) works with partners to lead Framework activities across the Midwest and Northeast U.S. Within the Climate Change Response Framework, the Urban Forestry focus addresses urban forest vulnerability for cities and creates tools to help local managers adapt to the effects of climate change.
Significant funding for urban forestry at the state level comes from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS); see the role that the USFS plays with urban forests here. It’s important to get to know our national leadership, like newly sworn in USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen.
Vicki Christiansen serves as Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service in Washington, D.C., after serving as Interim Chief since March 8, 2018. In her 36-year career in natural resource and wildland fire management, she brings a wealth of experiences and skills that demonstrate a commitment to the core values of the Forest Service. This includes conservation, service, interdependence, diversity, and safety. She works daily to live up to these values in every facet of her leadership and service. She demonstrates them as she leads a workforce of more than 25,000 permanent employees who steward 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands; support the world’s largest forestry research organization; and work with states, tribes and the public to sustain all forests so they can benefit all citizens, today and in the future.
Prior to serving as Chief, she worked as Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry, where she oversaw Fire and Aviation Management, Tribal Relations, Forest Health Protection, Cooperative Forestry, Grey Towers National Historic Site, and Conservation Education.
Can you tell us about childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in forestry and urban forestry? Eric Greenfield: I grew up in Delhi, New York in the western Catskills. Delhi is small community surrounded by agriculture and forests and is home to one of the SUNY campuses.
Growing up, my interaction with nature was primarily through family camping and Boy Scouts (Troop 33). My father was a professor at SUNY Delhi, so our summers were filled with family camping trips, mostly throughout upstate New York. Unlike the typical Boy Scout troop meetings, our troop met twice a month over weekends at the troop leader’s camp in the woods. Most of my “woods” skills—like tree ID, wildlife tracking, survival skills, and ecological awareness—were developed there. In relation to urban forestry, some of my most vivid memories are of the large American elms in Delhi and the community mourning their loss when they were removed because of Dutch elm disease.
My dad was very active in our church and in community service. Participating in activities with him really helped to build my appreciation for service to neighbor, nature stewardship, and spirituality in nature. I was fortunate to be selected to participate in the American Legion Boy’s State as a teenager, and that experience helped shape my interest in the positive role of government.
I like to think that forestry (and especially urban forestry) augmented my focus on public service. The transition was natural as my appreciation of the working landscape in the Catskills grew.
City Arborist Steve Harris of the Syracuse Parks Department—who also serves as our Council’s secretary—is pleased to share the release of the 2016 State of the Urban Forest for the City of Syracuse. Steve is an ISA Certified Arborist and Municipal Specialist and in addition to being active in the NYSUFC is involved with the Society of Municipal Arborists. He has been Syracuse City Arborist since 2010.
The 2001 Syracuse Urban Forest Master Plan was one of the first of its kind. The impetus for that report was to lay the groundwork for a focused response to the devastation caused by the Labor Day Storm of 1998. The US Forest Service Northern Research Station (USFS) and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County crafted that plan in cooperation with the City of Syracuse, Syracuse ReLeaf, and SUNY ESF.
Being the home of a world-class research institution (SUNY ESF) and a USFS Research Station dedicated to urban forest change has its benefits. Data gets collected. Beginning in 1999, the USFS established permanent plots in the City to monitor urban forest change. By urban forest, think all trees in the landscape no matter the ownership. Plots were most recently re-measured in 2014. In addition, the USFS worked with the University of Vermont Spatial Laboratory and SUNY ESF to complete an urban tree canopy (UTC) assessment of Syracuse in 2010. (UTC assessments use LIDAR and other spatial analysis tools to identify and measure tree canopy in the landscape.)
Not yet familiar with NUCFAC? The 1990 U.S. Farm Bill created NUCFAC to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on matters relating to the protection, planting, and care of trees and forests in our nation’s cities and communities. NUCFAC brings together U&CF professionals to strategize the health and future preservation of America’s urban forests. Working together, the Council brings that a full spectrum of views into a consistent vision that is the foundation for a practical national policy on urban forestry.