For urban forestry practitioners, Chief Bosworth’s Earth Day speech at UC Berkeley contained encouraging signs about the Forest Service’s vision for the future. Bosworth commented, “Where ecosystems are in trouble, our role is to restore them to health.” The chief recognized the increasing role that the agency will need to play to address the health of non-federal forest lands. Private forest lands are increasingly falling under development, resulting in forest fragmentation and net loss to the nation’s forest resources.
Bosworth discussed the need for the Forest Service to engage the public in land conservation issues. Recognizing that the nation is increasingly diverse, Bosworth noted, “Conservation belongs to all of our citizens, yet the face of conservation has traditionally been rural, male, and white. We need to give Americans from every background more opportunities to participate in conservation. We’ve got to broaden the circle of conservation.”
“As we lose our connection to the land through urban living, we tend to lose touch with our land ethic. It’s up to us at the Forest Service to help restore that connection,” said the chief, who added, “…some of the greatest opportunities come from working with people directly in urban neighborhoods. It takes relatively small investments in urban greenspace projects, for example, to make a huge difference in people’s lives and outlooks. We’ve seen it in cities such as Chicago, where the Forest Service works through a metropolitan partnership called Chicago Wilderness.”
Let’s hope that this signals greater support for the Urban and Community Forestry Program, Urban Forest Research, and for increasing conservation education outreach that engages urban/suburban people in the places they live. We hope the Forest Service will increase the number of collaborative projects in metropolitan areas — imagine if every city received the support and research resources that the agency has provided in Chicago — we could see a flowering of green cities nationwide.
Read Chief Bosworth’s speech (sections of interest to ACT members are highlighted) (PDF).