American Forests launched a new program in 2013, entitled,
“Community ReLeaf.” The premise is to help rebuild urban forests in communities
facing environmental challenges as a result of factors ranging from natural
disasters (this year, Hurricane Sandy and Asbury Park, NJ) to pollution caused
by urbanization (Atlanta, Nashville, Detroit and Pasadena). On the ground work
includes conducting assessments of the canopy and species composition,
resulting in specific economic calculations of environmental benefits and
replacement costs. The particular challenges faced by each city are profiled in
order to determine where and what to plant to enhance the benefits that the
urban forests provide.
Using the assessment results, the program works with our
local partners in each city to get the trees in the ground and to educate
legislators, civic leaders and the public about the tangible value of trees and
the powerful impact of their benefits on their city.
The Community ReLeaf program grew out of a year-long
American Forests project funded in part by the US Forest Service that resulted
in a book called Urban Forests Case
Studies, published in fall 2012. A dozen
cities across the country were selected for analysis of how partnerships,
public policy and influential leaders have helped overcome urban challenges,
Milwaukee among them. Cited as part of what made Milwaukee an exemplary case study were its
citywide greening initiative, invasive pest management program, long-term
maintenance plan, stormwater and watershed management and public partnerships.
And there are another 11 cases of cities where decisive action; smart
management practices and public-private partnerships helped solve serious
problems with green rather than gray infrastructure.
This presentation will help attendees gain an understanding
of strategies that were effective in improving urban forests in cities across
the country, lessons learned from those strategies, and tools and criteria that
were employed to measure the benefits of urban forests.
American Forests Community ReLeaf goal is to have completed
Community ReLeaf programs in 20 cities by 2020.