From our New Council President, Steve Harris
Steve is City Arborist for the City of Syracuse.
First of all, welcome to new members of the Council! Professionals and volunteers alike--we are thrilled you have joined us.
I've been a member of the Council since I started working in urban and community forestry in 2001. From my vantage point, I believe that today is a great time to be working in urban and community forestry. It seems like the importance of trees and urban forests is regularly in the headlines. If you have been working in the field a while, you know that making the case for trees as essential infrastructure continues to get easier and that more municipalities are elevating the role of trees to improve their communities.
That said, not every community has been infected by the green thumb of urban forestry; Council grants can help those communities get started. Additionally, in New York State, grant awards are made through the DEC Urban & Community Forestry program grant making process. DEC continues to fund tree inventory, planting, and maintenance grants to municipalities large and small.
The big headline in urban forestry is the extensive research highlighting that a map of canopy cover is analogous to a map of income. In city after city, low-income neighborhoods have about half the canopy cover of their wealthier neighbors. Low canopy cover means hotter, unhealthier neighborhoods especially for the youngest and oldest in our community. American Forests calls Tree Equity the idea that every neighborhood deserves equal access to the awesomeness of trees! Part of this equity is who has access to the process of deciding where trees are planted and who is doing the work of urban forestry.
With tree equity in mind, the Council hired Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Consultant Christina B. Smith to help advise how we can realize more diverse participation in the development and implementation of our programs. This will be especially important as we embark on a new strategic planning process.
If you missed last month’s excellent virtual NY ReLeaf Conference—special thanks to the hardworking Buffalo's Region 9 ReLeaf Committee and the talented DEC UCF staff—look out for opportunities to attend a workshop virtually or locally, hosted by your regional DEC offices and regional ReLeaf committees.