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Urban Forestry Managers Need Better Climate Change Data, Report Says

Results of a new survey suggest that there are benefits to be reaped from a focus on climate change.
April 23, 2019, 11am PDT | Lee Flannery
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Joseph Sohm

 According to a new report published by Natural Areas Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, forestry professionals could benefit greatly from more information about climate change, among other topics. The survey, reports Amanda Kolson Hurley, "represented 125 organizations in 110 cities."

"Societal issues such as green-space access and the urban heat-island effect often aren't integrated into management of urban forests," details Hurley. "Forest managers need more data on climate change, pests, and other factors. They need more funding. And they spend much of their time dealing with invasive species and trash."

When asked about factors in decision making, 61 percent of survey respondents cited conservation of native species as one of the top three factors they consider. "By contrast, climate-change projections and the urban heat-island effect were not considered at all by large shares of respondents (47 and 53 percent, respectively)."

So, could more pertinent data on climate change effect the work of forest managers? Not dramatically or instantly, says Hurley. "Even forest managers who have robust information may not be able to act on it as much as they'd like, because they're so busy removing trash and fighting invasive species such as honeysuckle and kudzu. Those activities leave less time for practices like soil amendment, which improves soil and plant health."

Recommendations from the report's organizers include improving access to urban forests among low-income communities, prioritizing forest safety, including forestry management in urban resiliency planning, and nation-wide budget increases for urban forestry management.

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Published on Monday, March 25, 2019 in CityLab
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