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Trees in the City: Competing priorities and tradeoffs for urban forest management in cities facing water scarcity

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group, Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 11:50 AM / 1:05 PM (MDT)
Room: Virtual Track 10
Organizers: Shawn Landry, Tenley Conway, Lara Roman
Chairs: Lara Roman


Trees and urban forests are planted and stewarded in cities across a wide range of biomes, from temperate to tropical and desert environments. For cities that were naturally forested before human settlements, planting trees and increasing tree cover has sometimes been framed as reforestation to restore ecological functions, but for cities in dry environments, tree planting represents the cultivation of a forest where there was none before. This panel discussion is focused on urban forests in dry environments: trees in arid, semi-arid, and Mediterranean climates that generally require extensive irrigation to survive. We will discuss tradeoffs and conflicts inherent in the planting of trees in dry cities. From ancient Egypt and Rome to modern Phoenix and Los Angeles, humans have been manipulating water supplies to drastically alter the urban landscape and grow gardens, parks, and street trees. However, in the context of sustainable planning and design, maintaining trees in such environments may run counter to water conservation strategies. Furthermore, human settlements in regions that have seasonal droughts also often contend with wildlife risk. Challenges of water scarcity and wildfire are predicted to increase with climate change for many cities in dry climates. Targeted planting of drought-tolerant species and other management strategies may enable urban landscapes to be sustainable in the face of water scarcity and wildfire risk. Increased integration and coordination across scholars and professionals in urban forestry, urban planning, plant ecophysiology, and sustainability science could better support tree management in dry cities.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Darrel Jenerette 15
Panelist Lorien Nesbitt University of British Columbia Liu Institute for Global Issues - Vancouver, BC 15
Panelist Vivek Shandas 15
Panelist Natalie Van Doorn U.S. Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station 15

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