[imageframe class=”acb-img-frame maginTop22px” ] In our efforts to increase the tree canopy of Baltimore City, the Alliance and its TreeBaltimore partners have engaged the skills of the SalterMitchell social marketing firm to determine the right path towards adding 30,000 trees/year and to help institute the early phases of the  marketing plan. To reach this number it is clear that residents of the city will need to plant trees in their own yards and this program will work to engage them in that behavior.

Over the past year research has been conducted on the barriers to tree planting in the city as well as residents’ perceived benefits from trees, all to formulate a marketing plan that will lead to the intended goal. Local residents took part in focus group discussions, community leaders were engaged one-on-one, and a random 500 person survey was conducted. Baltimore City’s urban tree canopy cover by neighborhood (2007).The results thus far lead us to target a city-wide swath that crosses west to east, from Franklintown to Moravia, and south to north, from North Avenue to Northern Parkway. The city tree canopy gradient traverses from very little in the urban core to highly canopied in the outer edges. Our target area bisects the two and presents an area with available planting sites, a large number of single family homes, and a great need for trees.

Baltimore residents’ attitudes towards trees, brought out in the focus groups are leading the development of the marketing message. Not surprisingly; the negative comments were things we all have heard in the past; trees are messy, their roots damage pipes, hard to maintain, and hide criminals. On the positive side the focus groups showed that city residents do believe that trees add to the quality of life and that “neighborhoods with trees are associated with family homes, that the people care about their community and take pride” to quote one participant. Roland Park Middle School Students planting trees in a Baltimore City park.The research also showed that the current TreeBaltimore partnership strategy of hosting large scale, volunteer tree plantings on institutional properties is successful. The marketing plan will recognize this success by building on the number, scale, and exposure of these events and use strategic marketing messages to instill a planting ethos that will extend to home lots. Starting in the spring of 2014, Baltimore residents will notice an increased focus on trees and residents, dignitaries, sports heros, and professionals will come together to make a difference in the lives of Baltimore citizens and the water quality of Baltimore streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

The TreeBaltimore partnership is: Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Blue Water Baltimore, Parks & People Foundation, Maryland Forest Service, United States Forest Service, and concerned citizens throughout Baltimore.