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Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
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You are here: NRS Home / Research Programs / Urban Natural Resources Stewardship / Sustainability and Health
Urban Natural Resources Stewardship

Sustainability and Health of Urban Natural Resources

Urban trees must survive many unique stresses, such as limited growing space, soil compaction, excessive heat, vandalization, road salt, and non-native insect and disease pests that tend to arrive in urban areas. Urbanization, non-native horticultural species, and soils affect forest productivity and nutrient cycling in and around urban areas. In addition, parks that are not adequately maintained may be overrun with non-native invasive plants. Northern Research Station (NRS) scientists are developing maps and tables that display the potential susceptibility of urban forests to various native and non-native pests and the economic values of the urban forest resources nationally.

Selected Research Studies

[Photo:] A rooftop view from East Baltimore. Photo Credit: Morgan Grove, US Forest ServicePrivate Lands, Forest Stewardship, and Residential Greening
Substantial areas of forest persist both inside and outside of formal protected areas or parks, across a variety of public, private and community land ownerships. In both Baltimore City and surrounding counties, substantial forest cover remains, although patches may be small or divided among multiple owners. Across such a diverse backdrop of forest owners, we seek to understand how and why forest cover is maintained and managed when it lacks formal protection and management. What are the roles of formal and informal institutions, such as land-use planning, homeowners associations, and citizen management? We also seek to better understand both ecological functions of forest patches and community stewardship or engagement with these urban green spaces.

 

[Photo:] Lawn soils have shown a surprisingly high capacity to sequester carbon. Photo by Ian Yesilonis, US Forest Service.Carbon Storage
Carbon, the main constituent of soil organic matter, is important for water infiltration, water retention, erosion prevention, and nutrient supply to plants and animals. 
The amount of carbon stored in soil over time is a balance between carbon input through net primary productivity and loss through decay, both of which are controlled by environmental factors such as soil temperature and moisture. 

 

[Photo:] A research technician examines decomposition rates on the forest floor.  Photo by: Ian Yesilonis, US Forest Service.Biotic and Abiotic Drivers of Decomposition Rates: A Comparison among Five Cities
This model allows individual communities and cities to easily, accurately, and cost-effectively quantify their urban forest structure and its effect on air quality and atmospheric carbon dioxide and other urban forest functions and values. New UFORE modules are being developed to assess urban forest effects of stream flows and water quality and for aiding in urban forest sustainability.

 

PhotoThe urban forest effects (UFORE) model
This model allows individual communities and cities to easily, accurately, and cost-effectively quantify their urban forest structure and its effect on air quality and atmospheric carbon dioxide and other urban forest functions and values. New UFORE modules are being developed to assess urban forest effects of stream flows and water quality and for aiding in urban forest sustainability.

 

make nyc even cooler: MillionTreesNYCMillionTreesNYC
is a Citywide, public-private initiative with an ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the City's five boroughs over the next decade.

 

[photo:] Mature trees link people to the city environmentTree Biology and Tree Care
Urban and community forests are key components for livable towns and cities. These trees require care to maintain health and safety and to provide the services that we expect from urban forests. Tree care is most effective when it is guided by an understanding of basic processes of tree biology.

 

[photo:] Oak wilt in red oakOak Wilt
Oak wilt, caused by the exotic fungus, Ceratocystis fagacearum, is one of the most serious diseases of oaks (Quercus) in the Midwest and kills tens to hundreds of thousands of oak trees every year.  Infection by the fungus causes clogging of water conducting vessels, leading to wilt and death of infected trees. 

 

Last Modified: 02/08/2017