Watered Down Stewardship: How residential and state stewardship regimes inform juvenile tree survivorship.

Authors: Nicholas Geron*,
Topics: Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Urban Geography
Keywords: urban forestry, survivorship, stewardship, agency theory, tree planting
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Trees in urban neighborhoods benefit residents by reducing building energy costs, cleaning the air, and reducing surface runoff. As a result, municipal and state governments are planting more trees in cities; however, the socio-ecological benefits derived from planted trees are dependent on juvenile trees surviving to reach maturity. Stewardship has been shown to be an important determinant for the survival of urban trees, yet little is known about how resident stewardship practices and motivations impact tree survivorship. This study will address three research questions using the Massachusetts Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP) as a case study: 1) how does the survivorship of residential tree stewardship compare to public trees stewarded by trained foresters?; 2) what is the importance of stewardship compared to other biophysical and social factors for tree survivorship? 3) how do residents’ attitudes about stewardship impact residential tree survivorship? 240 trees in the city of Chicopee were surveyed for common biophysical variables using the newly released urban tree monitoring field guide developed by the US Forest Service. Interviews were conducted with residents and state foresters on their stewardship attitudes and practices and analyzed using a principle-agent relationship framework. Initial results are that trees stewarded by residents had significantly lower survivorship potentially due to residents’ lack of tree care knowledge and variety of motivations. Suggestions for tree planting programs to increase survivorship are to leverage resident motivations for planting trees to increase tree care knowledge and practice.

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