Davis, CA (August 24, 2009)- Greg McPherson: The transition now is from what I call a disposable urban forest to a sustainable urban forest.
EarthSky: Greg McPherson is director of the Center for Urban Forest Research, in Davis. He says there’s been a shift in the way that people view trees in an urban environment.
Greg McPherson: They are recognized as having tremendous potential to improve the quality of life in our cities, and to improve our health, and well-being, and to make our cities better environmentally, and to provide something around which we can come together as communities, and build social bonds.
EarthSky: McPherson has studied how trees grow in cities and affect the urban environment. He said that trees provide tangible benefits to cities, including cleaning pollutants from the air, sequestering carbon to slow global warming, and lowering local temperatures and energy use.
Greg McPherson: If you plant the right tree on the west side of your home and it’s shading some windows, it can lower your cooling bill.
EarthSky: But he said in order to get the most benefit out of planting trees, ordinary citizens have to make a long-term commitment to caring for them. McPherson added that, in cities, there’s a growing awareness of environmental stewardship.
Greg McPherson: I think all of that is moving us towards a more sustainable urban forest that will have an enduring value, something we can pass on to future generations. I think there is a growing awareness that trees are more than an ornamental feature of the landscape. They do provide a host of benefits, and ecosystem services. When we plant a tree, the tree will be giving back to us for many years, if we steward it, and make sure it grows to be a healthy, long life tree.
EarthSky: He said that, partly because of a growing sense of stewardship, urban forestry is now in transition.
Greg McPherson: Too often in the past, urban forests have been a short-term thing, where there hasn’t been a commitment and an interest to creating an enduring value through tree planting and stewardship.
Greg McPherson is the director of the Center for Urban Forestry Research at the Pacific Southwest Research Station of the Forest Service in Davis, California. He conducts research that measures and models the benefits and costs of urban forests. He recently helped the city of Los Angeles determine the feasibility of planting one million trees.
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