Optimizing site locations for new green infrastructure in Worcester, Massachusetts

Authors: John Rogan, Clark University , William Sanders*, Clark University, Marc Healy , Clark University , Nicholas Geron, Clark University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Geography and Urban Health, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: urban forestry, UHI, green infrastructure
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The effects of climate change are impacting the lives of vulnerable urban populations through rising air temperatures, which can cause health issues like asthma, stroke and heart attack. The Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) disproportionally warms urban neighborhoods that are less vegetated and have more impervious surface. The area of study, Worcester, Massachusetts, has a developed post-industrial and residential urban core and is recovering from a large outbreak of Asian Longhorned Beetle. Thirteen Worcester neighborhoods have a canopy cover under 20% with Green Island and the Central Business District having the lowest canopy cover (i.e., 3.3% and 3.9% respectively). Neighborhoods like Green Island have been prioritized for new tree planting and green infrastructure by the City of Worcester to mitigate UHI. The knowledge gap is the lack of systematic approaches to help prioritize where greenspace development should occur (i.e., identifying existing greenspace and protecting it, and locating new greenspace), based on: (a) need for additional established greenspace and (b) feasibility for greenspace development. Tier 1 locates potential parcels of land for greenspace development and then classifies parcel "need" for greenspace development by air temperature, population density, and environmental justice risk. Tier 2 analysis addresses the feasibility of tree planting and green infrastructure development within the Tier 1 "high need" land parcels. The products from both tiers of analysis are maps that can assist the Worcester Planning Office in its goals for urban greening by identifying potential sites for greenspace, determining land parcel need for greenspace, and providing supplemental site-specific information.

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