More Trees, Please!
Over the course of two days, 100+ professionals from across the Chesapeake Bay watershed gathered for the second Urban Tree Canopy Summit, held at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge in Laurel, Maryland on January 14 and 15.
There were many objectives of the summit, including:
- Build a broad base of knowledge of the newer opportunities available to advance tree canopy efforts with hands-on training and presentations by subject matter experts;
- Identify the opportunities to disseminate these lessons at the local, sub-regional, and state level;
- Catalyze collaboration with new cross-sector partners such as planning, public health, and stormwater; and
- Identify opportunities for continuous improvement, such as tool enhancements, gaps in guidance, and/or resources.
The weather outside may have been overcast and drizzling, but the energy inside the beautiful Visitor’s Center was light and energetic. The day started off with a welcome from Dr. Charles Glass, Deputy Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources. Dr. Glass delivered some inspiring words, helping frame the need for more trees in order to tackle both stormwater pollution problems and increase public health challenges in urban areas.
Sessions covered a lot of ground, and you can view the agenda here.
Some of the highlights of the Summit included:
- Presentation from Dr. Kathleen Wolf from University of Washington, whose research helped attendees connect the power of green spaces and physical activity and increased public health outcomes.
- Melissa Deas from the District of Columbia Department of Energy and the Environment presented on DC’s work mapping urban heat islands (shade-less paved areas in the city that get incredibly hot during warm weather) and how her department is using this data to make informed decisions on how to create a more resilient city-scape (I.e. increasing urban tree cover!)
- Krista Heineken from The Daley Institute shared many useful maps and information that her organization is using to display tree canopy and other data points, utilizing the i-Tree Landscape website.
- A panel entitled “Addressing Issues of Equity: Community Case Studies,” where four practitioners shared their insights on working for better tree equity across the Chesapeake Bay. Panelists included Sarah Anderson from American Forests, Ruby Stemmle from EcoLatinos, Brenda Richardson from Chozen Consulting LLC, and Mark Conway from the Baltimore Tree Trust. In summation, all of the panelists reminded the practitioners in the room that we can’t just plant trees FOR communities, but need to find ways to increase tree canopy WITH and BY them – and that in order to be understood, it is best to seek first to understand.
Everything we do is in partnership, and we could not have held such a successful event without the assistance of our incredible partners Julie Mawhorter, US Forest Service, and Rebecca Hanmer, Chair of the Forestry Workgroup of the Chesapeake Bay Program. In addition to these partners, we are thankful to the other planning partners from around the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including:
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service
- District of Columbia Department of Transportation
- District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment
- Delaware Forest Service
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry
- Virginia Department of Forestry
- West Virginia Division of Forestry
- Cacapon Institute (West Virginia)
Funding was generously provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), who continues to support our work in convening voices in order to deliver resources and build the capacity to increase urban tree canopy cover across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The intense two-day agenda was jam-packed with information and resource sharing, networking, and learning of all kinds. All of the participants walked away from the event with new contacts, new ideas, and a renewed inspiration to continue their important work. The overall message of the day – more trees, please!