Communities and Landscapes of the Urban Northeast

Forests & Greenspaces

Satellite view of Hepp Park in Baltimore - Google ImageTrees, tree canopy, other vegetation, and greenspace are critical resources in urban areas, towns, and communities that significantly affect everything from environmental quality and human health to economics, resilience, crime, and more.  However, relatively little is known about the magnitude, composition, and health of this resource in most communities. As well, we are only beginning to discover how trees and greenspace positively influence public health and personal mental and emotional health, and how recreation opportunities tied with these places improve social ties and sense of community. Information on urban forest structure (e.g., number of trees, species composition, tree health), composition (street trees vs. residential vs. park vs. natural area), tree canopy (percent cover), and much more is essential to informing urban forest management.  Enhanced urban forest management can lead to improved outcomes for ecological, human (individual), and community (public) health.  Forests, forest patches, and urban forest management can affect jobs, economies, resilience to climate change and extreme events, water quality, biodiversity and so much more.
Beyond this, our conception of forests is affected by what surrounds us.  Large tracts of forest “out there” are what sustain much of the human and ecological health of the planet.   But the urban northeast is a landscape of over a million forests.  These smaller forested lots, or forest “patches” (which might range in size from a small parking lot or smaller to several acres or more), constitute most peoples’ experience and understanding of nature and ecology, and this is what can affect whether and how people value the conservation and care of natural landscapes – all of which has implications for sustainability, resilience, human health, and much more.

Selected Research across locations:

Selected Research anchored at a particular Urban Field Station:

Research Highlights


Last Modified: August 6, 2019