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“Why do you take care of your tree? So it don’t die”: How public and private stewardship regimes inform juvenile tree survivorship.

Authors: Nicholas Geron*, , John Rogan, Clark University, Deborah Martin, Clark University, Marc Healy, Clark University, Juliette Gale, Clark University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography, Environmental Science
Keywords: Urban forestry, tree survivorship, stewardship regimes, tree planting
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Trees in urban neighborhoods benefit residents by reducing building energy costs, cleaning the air, and reducing surface runoff. City and state governments are planting more trees; however, the socio-ecological benefits derived from planted trees are dependent on the juvenile trees surviving to reach maturity. Empirical studies are needed to understand how the factors that impact tree survivorship are linked to the immediate and neighborhood biophysical environment as well as stewardship practices. This study posed three questions: 1) What are the biophysical and socioeconomic factors that impact tree survivorship in four cities in the Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP)? 2) Do residential trees have higher survivorship than public trees? 3) Does resident’s attitudes about stewardship impact tree survivorship? This study uses data from the GGCP in Massachusetts which aims to increase tree canopy cover by 10% by planting trees on private resident’s land (80% of trees planted) and in public spaces (20%). In total, 4,449 trees in four cities were surveyed for biophysical variables and interviews were conducted with 60 residents on their stewardship attitudes and practices. First, this research hypothesizes that drought incidence, median household income and native status will be important factors for survivorship. Secondly, it hypothesizes that residents will not have lower survivorship compared to public trees that are stewarded by state foresters. Thirdly, the study hypothesizes that higher survivorship rates are found with residents who are motivated to get a tree for environmental reasons, have fewer trees, and who more frequently water their trees.

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