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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 39, Issue 4 — July 2013

Stewardship Success: How Community Group Dynamics Affect Urban Street Tree Survival and Growth    (View PDF)

Emily Jack-Scott, Max Piana, Blake Troxel, Colleen Murphy-Dunning, and Mark S. Ashton

Abstract: Over the last two decades, there has been a substantial increase in street tree plantings across the United States. Many cities have set ambitious planting goals, relying on volunteer community groups to meet them. Existing research demonstrates that community stewardship increases the survival of urban street trees. There is a lack of research, however, on how defining characteristics of community groups affect the survival and growth of the trees they plant. This study explores the significance of community group size (# participants), type (apartment, block watch, church, concerned neighbors, park, public housing, school, and social service), planting longevity (# years active), experience level (# trees planted), and neighborhood (geo-political boundaries). Measured for this study were 1393 trees planted from 1995 to 2007, by 134 groups, through the Urban Resources Initiative’s Community Greenspace program in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S. There was an overall survival rate of 76%. Highest survival and growth was found among trees planted by groups with more planting experience, greater longevity, and more participants. Higher tree survival and growth was observed when trees were planted by groups working in line with their mission (e.g., park groups in parks). Lowest survival and growth was found among yard trees planted by public housing groups. Existing canopy cover and neighborhood percent homeownership had little effect on survival or growth. This research can offer guidance for city managers by suggesting which planting groups require particular assistance in conducting successful, lasting street tree plantings.

Keywords: Community Forestry; Connecticut; Mean Annual Growth Increment; Mortality; Percent Live Crown; Planting; Stewardship; Urban Ecology; Urban Forestry; Volunteer.

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