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Urban Forests Create Vibrant Cities

by Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests Task Force

Vibrant Cities banner (credit: city of chicago)Photo credit: City of Chicago

If you could create a new pathway that would guide cities to a more vibrant and healthy existence – with programs, policies, partnerships and resources to support thriving urban forest systems – what would it look like? A new report, Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests: A National Call to Action, establishes a vision, highlights emerging trends, and culminates with a series of recommendations that can be applied to urban areas across the U.S.

Vibrant Cities report thumbTo craft the report, the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests Task Force collaborated with New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Bringing together the observations and recommendations of 25 experts across multiple disciplines, the 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.

How Urban Forestry Can Solve City Problems

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.

Blue yellow arrow icon small Read the Report

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.

12 Recommendations

The 12 Recommendations that follow are guided by the same underlying themes and represent the culmination of the Task Force’s expertise.  Each recommendation challenges the reader to take action to improve our cities. Read the report for full details on each one.

  1. Create a national education and awareness campaign.

  2. Foster urban forestry and natural resources stewardship and volunteerism.

  3. Create sustainable jobs in urban forestry and green infrastructure.

  4. Cultivate partnerships between public and private sectors.

  5. Develop new public administration models for urban ecosystems.

  6. Create comprehensive, multi-jurisdictional Urban Regional
    Natural Resource Plans.

  7. Integrate federal agencies’ green infrastructure goals.

  8. Establish energy efficiency programs that emphasize the use of trees.

  9. Ensure equitable distribution of resources.

  10. Support urban ecosystem-focused, collaborative research.

  11. Encourage open access to and use of social assessment tools.

  12. Establish national Vibrant Cities Standards.

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