Urban forestry – an important component to protecting the Chesapeake Bay

Urban Forestry: An Increasingly Critical Component of the Landscape

Mr. Michael Galvin, SavATree

(This text is a summary of Mr. Galvin’s presentation at Hood College Symposium, March 7, 2013)

Current decisions are being made at a local, land parcel level.  When only one person cuts down a tree, this doesn’t make a huge difference.  However, when everyone does, it greatly impacts the environment.  When literature was published showing that the Chesapeake Bay was in serious trouble during the 1970s and 1980s, people didn’t want to put together any regulatory actions.  When goals were not being met for the health of the bay, this area implemented a series of laws that have made the area highly regulated and a model for other states in similar circumstances.  Baltimore is the site of an Urban Long Term Ecological Research project.  These began in Phoenix and Baltimore as a result of their commissioning by the National Science Foundation.  They were commissioned because for the first time in history we have more people living in cities than in rural environments.  In urban areas the water table functions differently and the hydrology is altered.  Water in urban environments becomes more of a nuisance rather than a resource (think Carroll Creek Park).  Also, urban environments are almost entirely impervious cover in most cases.  This decreases stream health.  By adopting a program for the Bay’s health, riparian forest buffer have been implemented and continue to expand.  Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) have been used for jurisdictional plans for meeting watershed health guidelines.  These have helped to see the improvement that we do with the current health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  In Washington, D.C., urban tree canopy have been used significantly to improve air pollution levels.  This strategy has been incorporated into the WIPs of 5 of the 7 bay states.  We continue to experiment with strategies to improve the life of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and urban forestry has been instrumental in this process.