Increasing fruit tree cover in cities as a carbon-offset method – case study of Baltimore, MD

Authors: Natalia Fath*, Towson University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Geography and Urban Health, Food Systems
Keywords: urban trees, fruit trees, climate change, mitigation, carbon offset
Session Type: Virtual Guided Poster
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 53
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Climate change threatens cities around the world, in particular coastal cities. Given that urban population in the world continues to grow, and that the extent of the problem is greater given the urban heat island effect, mitigation and adaptation strategies are becoming especially important. Increasing urban tree canopy and specifically fruit trees can potentially provide a feasible solution to the aforementioned issue. The goal of this project was to calculate carbon offset by the trees planted by the Baltimore Orchard Project (BOP). The BOP, a community-based environmental NGO, planted more than 950 fruit trees since 2012. In pursuing the project goal, fruit tree data were collected from two sites in Baltimore, including: lat-long coordinates, diameter at breast height, distance and direction to the nearest building, species, tree condition, tree mortality, and sun exposure. A spatial map was created for all tree samples collected. Data were used in a carbon offset calculator via iTree which also included fuel emission and electricity emission factor, building age and climate controls. Results from the inventory and carbon offset calculations show that various types of urban trees, specifically pawpaw, apple, fig, and persimmon, have different ability to sequester carbon. Apple trees are the best sink and, thus, recommended for future planting activities. The created inventory of urban fruit trees and carbon offset calculation is a first step leading to an “urban orchard” with a dual purpose – sequester carbon and provide food to those living in food deserts.

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