The world’s population is becoming increasingly urbanized, making the quality of the urban environment important to more and more people.
Trees are ubiquitous and form part of the essential green skin providing essential services and benefits to almost all metropolitan areas. Through the Urban Forest Program, Earthwatch is connecting people with nature right where they live.
Earthwatch research manager Gitte Venicx explains the importance of studying urban forests to volunteers in Boston.
THE BENEFITS AND SCIENCE
Trees in cities provide a wealth of benefits, called ecosystem services, including climate change mitigation, filtration of storm water, energy conservation, carbon sequestration and storage, esthetic value, and improved physical and psychological human health. We are quantifying in dollars the value of these services provided by the urban forests in each city. Urban trees are threatened by pollution, emerging pests and diseases, lack of access to water, soil compaction, shading by buildings, and removal. We are also evaluating how the growth and survivorship of trees are being impacted by these threats. By gaining an understanding of the value of forests and threats to them, we can provide local tree managers with new tools to maintain healthy urban forests.
Citizen scientists examine the health of trees throughout Boston and San Francisco.
WE CAN’T DO IT ALONE
The management of urban street trees, parklands, and forests is an integral and active part of urban planning to ensure vibrant green space and ecosystem services for cities and municipalities. We are partnering with local nonprofit organizations focused on planting trees, land managers who can make decisions about tree management, scientists who ask questions and analyze data to figure out how trees are responding to the environment, and technology specialists who build innovative tools to engage people in data collection. Our current partners include:
- Arborist for the City of Cambridge (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
- Urban Ecos and the Urban Forest Map (San Francisco)
- Openlands (Chicago)
- Trees Atlanta (Atlanta)
- Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colorado) and citsci.org
GETTING INVOLVED IS EASY
It's easy to get involved. You can join a one-day expedition in which an urban forest expert will guide you through everything you need to know to identify and measure trees. You can also visit My Tree Tracker to see all of the data collected by citizen scientists across the U.S., or download it onto your iOS or Android phone today.
Spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues. After all, preserving our natural environment is everyone’s responsibility.