Community Empowerment and the Urban Forest

Corvallis, OR (2005)- According to some reports, there are 3.8 billion urban trees in the United States, a number that elevates to 74.4 billion if entire metropolitan regions are taken into consideration. Since 80% of all Americans live in metropolitan areas, urban trees have a significant impact on the majority of American citizens.

The Urban Resources Initiative in Detroit (URI/Detroit) was developed to explore the idea of green spaces acting as cohesive forces within neighborhoods. Through this project, Detroit residents and organizations were interviewed and tracked to determine the impact of trees on their daily lives. The researchers speculated that residents increase their interaction with each other and build a sense of community through participation in community forestry and creating green spaces.
The results of the project confirmed that forests are an integral part of communities in urban settings. Active participation in community forestry projects not only contributes to improved urban environment in terms of air quality and climate management, but also to community building and community empowerment.
Further, the study found that because community participation is critical to social and environmental sustainability, only community involvement and control, rather than professional or governmental control, produced the desired results.
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Community Empowerment and the Urban Forest