Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition meeting brings community of experts to Capitol Hill

By Keith Wood and Josh Knoll

Earlier this month, the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) held its 14th Annual Meeting in Arlington, Virginia, at The Nature Conservancy’s headquarters. It was a chance for a wide array of community forestry stakeholders—including city planners, educators, landscape architects, non-profit leaders, scientists, arborists, foresters, and nurserymen and women—to come together to discuss the latest in urban canopy mapping, the status of forest pest and disease mitigation, and the federal government’s support for the field.

The full-day meeting was kicked off by the outgoing co-chairs of the coalition, Paul Ries and Gerry Gray, and new chairs, Jennifer Hinrichs and Mark Garvin, who each gave an introduction to their goals for SUFC. Next, the SUFC working groups gave updates on their progress.

The Policy Group (led by Rebecca Turner of American Forests and Danielle Watson of the Society of American Foresters) has reached consensus on its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 federal appropriations ask of $35 million for the USDA Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program.

The Strategic Engagement and Networking Group (led by Rachel Holmes of The Nature Conservancy and Mike Beacom of the National Association of Conservation Districts) briefed members on their plans to rollout Phase II of the SUFC Member Mapping Initiative, Phase II of its Networking Initiative, a strategic plan for communications, and a national dialogue guide.

Other presentations covered:

Tools for showing how urban forests can offset stormwater overflows and qualify for carbon credits. A presentation from Mark McPherson of City Forest Credits, a non-profit registry issuing urban forest carbon credits, and Christyna Lepetiuk of the Green Infrastructure Center.

Ways to engage Silicon Valley influencers, organizations, and executives around urban and community forestry and other sustainability issues. A presentation from Meeting of the Minds founder Gordon Feller.

Designing markets that prioritize the responsible use of urban wood, including certified wood products programs. A presentation by Kathryn Fernholz with Dovetail Partners.

Results from a study on the effectiveness of engagement strategies for residential yard tree giveaway programs in New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Providence, and Worcester. A presentation by Dexter Locke, Michael Hand, and Lara Roman

The successes of a local urban wood utilization program in Baltimore, which was the focus of a field tour the day prior. A presentation by Lauren Marshall and Morgan Grove.

The work of the Wildlife Habitat Council along the coast of Lake Michigan to engage young people in the ecological restoration of highly polluted industrial sites. A presentation by Daniel Goldfarb.

Keith Wood staffs the NASF’s Urban and Community Forestry Committee. He can be reached at keith.wood750@gmail.com. Josh Knoll is NASF’s 2019 Spring James Hubbard Intern for Policy and Communications. He can be reached by email at intern@stateforesters.org.