A Glimpse into the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests Report (to be released November 15th)

Over the course of the past year, the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests Task Force has been collaborating with New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to craft the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests: A National Call to Action report, which will be released on Tuesday.

Bringing together the observations and recommendations of 25 experts across multiple disciplines, the Vibrant Cities Report presents a new framework for understanding the benefits of urban and community forestry.  The ideas contained in the Report will be familiar to urban forestry practitioners; the innovation is in the approach.  Convening a group of experts across multiple disciplines affected by the urban forest brings the message to a wider audience so that we are not once again preaching to the choir.  Offering a cohesive and cogent statement for what urban and community forestry means to our cities, the Report establishes a vision, highlights emerging trends, and culminates with a series of recommendations that can be applied to urban areas across the U.S.

The vision of the Report is to “explore the implications of integrated natural and built urban environments and their possibilities for the future.”  Put another way, the aim of the Vibrant Cities Report is to show how urban and community forestry can be used to solve problems that face our cities, particularly in areas that are not immediately obvious.  Most notably, the Report calls out how the urban forest, working as green infrastructure by complementing the built environment to address issues such as stormwater runoff, functions as part of a larger urban ecosystem.  Taking another example, the benefits of trees also extend to the realm of public health through their ability to mitigate air pollution and extreme heat in cities.

By framing urban forestry as a solution to not only the environmental, but also the social, economic and public health issues that face cities, the Report empowers decision makers to unlock the myriad benefits offered by trees and green infrastructure.

Building upon the vision, the Report continues with a rundown of several emerging trends, as well as how the potential benefits of the urban forest can offset the negative consequences of these trends.  The challenges identified in the Emerging Trends focus on environmental, economic and social themes.  The 12 Recommendations that follow are guided by the same underlying themes and represent the culmination of the Task Force’s expertise.  Distilled from over 100 initial proposals, the Recommendations cover Education and Public Awareness, Research and Evaluation, Public-Private Partnerships and other topics.  Each Recommendation challenges the reader to take action to improve our cities.

It is up to us to heed the call to action.

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