Biloxi, MS (June 18, 2007)- The National Urban & Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC) hosted a groundbreaking public forum in Biloxi, Mississippi on June 6, 2007 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center. “We gathered more than 40 experts and ordinary citizens from around the country to share ideas, best practices and first-person accounts about flooding in New Jersey, Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf region, ice storms in the Midwest, high winds in Washington State, devastating wildfires in Georgia and California, and other storm events,” said Joe Wilson, NUCFAC Council Chair.
“It was only fitting to host this event on the Mississippi Coast – still recovering from Katrina and on the eve of a new Hurricane season, – we heard from Mayors reviewing new policies, arborists highlighting poor tree care, and questions about the best role for FEMA in balancing human needs and best care for urban forests.”
Representing several million consumers, registered voters and national association members, the Forum 40+ featured experts included The U.S. Forest Service, The Hawaii Urban Forest Council, Mississippi Power, The National Association of Counties, State of Alabama Emergency Management Agency, The EPA Gulf of Mexico, Seattle Department of Transportation and several congressional staffers representing Senator Trent Lott, Senator Thad Cochran and Congressman Gene Taylor. “This is a call to action and public input will continue to be recorded until August 1, 2007,” according to Joe Wilson.
A comprehensive study by American Forests on the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the land and tree cover for over 50 counties of the Gulf Coast was also presented. ” Our study included satellite data before and after the storm, changes in the land cover and other data on fire risk and ecosystem services lost,” according to Gary Moll, Sr. Vice President Urban Ecosystem for American Forests.
Protecting the Value of Trees and Urban Forests
According to NUCFAC, urban communities represent 25% of the U.S. land mass and are home to 80% of Americans. By sharing best practices and first-hand insights, communities have a chance to develop a national strategy to protect the urban forests that reduce storm water runoff, improve air quality, remove “green-house gases” like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide and provide important ecosystems for people and wildlife.
NUCFAC was created by Congress through the 1990 Farm Bill as an advisory council to the Secretary of Agriculture requiring NUCFAC to develop a national urban and community forestry action plan, makes recommendations regarding a challenge cost share program, produce annual reports, and make recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture regarding urban and community forestry.
For more information, contact Joe Wilson, Chair of NUCFAC.