Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2016


John Van Buren


Over 80% of Americans live in urban areas and that percentage is expected to rise in the coming years. As young people migrate toward cities and the global population rises it is estimated that over 6 billion people will live in urban areas by 2045. The city of the future will not only have to face this population pressure but will also have to deal with rising sea levels, unpredictable weather patterns, increasing energy costs, rising temperatures, and decreasing air quality. Cities that will thrive in this unfavorable future must have strategic plans that will address and alleviate these crucial issues. To lead a municipality down this critical path we must examine the benefits of ecosystem services, environmental history, economic analysis, and administrative structures. When people hear the word ‘forestry’ they often think of thousands of acres of mighty evergreens lining the great American West, rarely do they think of the street trees standing outside their door. Equipping American cities with a diverse and robust urban forest will improve public health, mitigate the effects of climate change, and increase energy efficiency. By introducing policy which promotes innovative communication and partnerships with local organizations that have a vested interests in the benefits of an urban forest, stewardship programs can be created to monitor and protect this resource. Programs such as these can help reclaim our ecosystems as well as provide a means to strengthen community bonds and increase environmental awareness.