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Survivorship and Stewardship: Residential tree health in four Massachusetts Gateway Cities

Authors: Juliette Gale*, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Nicholas Geron, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Marc Healy, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Deborah Martin, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, John Rogan, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Tree stewardship, Resident stewardship, Tree survivorship, Tree health, Juvenile Trees, Gateway Cities
Session Type: Guided Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Juvenile tree survival is constrained by environmental conditions and human influences that threaten young trees during their establishment phase, leading to low survivorship. Stewardship, or tree care knowledge and practice, has been linked to increased survival rates of trees planted through state administered programs. Little research has explored the association between stewardship and survivorship of trees on residential property.
The Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP) in Massachusetts is a tree-planting program facilitated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) with the goal of increasing building energy efficiency through canopy cover. Trees are planted by the GGCP on both public and private property, resulting in a mix of stewardship responsibilities and practices in participating cities. This study takes a mixed-methods approach to compare the tree survivorship outcomes to perceived resident stewardship practices in four Massachusetts Gateway cities. In 2018 and 2019, a total of 62 interviews were conducted in Chicopee, Fall River, Leominster, and Pittsfield, as well as a health survey of 2,645 juvenile trees on residential property. NVIVO qualitative data analysis software was used to code interview data to create themes of resident responses concerning tree care and maintenance. These categories of responses were linked to tree location, and spatial analysis was performed to identify hot-spots of tree health. We hypothesize that residents that exhibit higher levels of stewardship, have program trees with higher rates of survivorship and higher metrics of health. The findings of this research will inform the practices of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program.

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