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Educating the Public in Urban Forestry

As urban foresters and arborists we are all pretty good about educating ourselves with the latest educational information in the industry. We attend conferences, seminars, search the internet and network among ourselves to gather all the information we need for our day to day operations. There are researchers both public and private that study how to best maintain our urban forests and how to reclaim parts of the urban landscape from the concrete canyons of the past. But what of the people that do not have a direct hand in the day to day care of our urban forests and yet do have a major role in their health and development? I am referring to the city planners and architects, the City, County, State and Federal government officials as well as the public in general. 

                Now before you start writing me all sorts of hate mail, I do know there are a number of outstanding urban forestry programs throughout our state. The problem is for every outstanding one there are at least one or two that are struggling. We have all heard the complaint, “I just don’t have the time or resources to do all the work I need to.” With a little due diligence on our part we can start to make a change. Work with city planners to help them see the importance of providing the proper areas for trees. Volunteer to go and speak to city, county and state officials and help them to understand the importance of maintaining the urban forest canopy. Most of all when you are called to a homeowner’s house, take the time to explain the importance of their trees even when they just want someone to remove them because they are tired of picking up pinecones and leaves. Help them to replant and rebuild the canopy in their neighborhood.

                   When talking to the public in our daily activities we never know when we are going to make that impression on a person that helps them to see where they can improve the urban forest. Casey Trees was established in 2002 by an individual after reading an article in the Washington Post, lamenting the decline of the urban forest canopy in Washington, DC. We all have the ability to educate the people around us, we just need to take the time to slow down and help the people as well as the trees.

 

Gene Stano

Arborist, East Carolina University