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New Research Evaluates Disparities of ‘Free Tree’ Programs

By Dexter H. Locke and J. Morgan Grove

Washington, DC (December 4, 2014) — Recruiting residents to plant trees can be hard work. A new study, which looked at neighborhoods in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, finds that programs might be most successful where it is easiest but have the lowest need.

ABA Baltimore project 2013 b (Small)Free or reduced-cost programs for tree planting on private lands were most effective in the most affluent neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD. These areas tended to also have the most existing tree canopy on both private residential lands and the public right of way.

An outcome of this research is a framework for further testing of which land management strategies are most effective, where, and with whom in order to improve the ability to plan and enhance urban sustainability and resilience through urban forestry.

Researchers examined the performance of formal programs associated with tree plantings in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD to understand the relationships between the implementation of urban greening programs and the social and ecological characteristics of a city.

Previous research has examined variations in patterns of existing and possible tree canopy cover relative to different social theories. Less attention has been paid to the processes of how the current patterns of tree canopy cover have developed. The goal of this paper was to address this gap by examining current programs to increase tree canopy.

The study utilized public records, administrative data, a geodemographic market segmentation database, and high-resolution land cover data to assess where programs work, who participates in these programs, and whom the programs fail to reach.

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Source: “Doing the Hard Work Where it’s Easiest? Examining the Relationships Between Urban Greening Programs and Social and Ecological Characteristics,” Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, December 2014.