Urban Forestry Services: Which and When Trees Benefit the Built Environment

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Phillip Zawarus

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As a society, we intrinsically know the value and ecosystem services of urban forestry but struggle to know when these environmental, social, and economic benefits impact the built environment. In urban settings where surface conditions are composed of impervious materials, soil volume is minimum and compacted, and long-term assessment strategies are nonexistent, urban tree canopies become highly stressed resulting in high mortality rates. This is most evident as current municipal codes for tree planting throughout metropolitan Las Vegas neglect healthy growing conditions where trees have an average lifespan between seven and thirteen years. This research evaluates tree health within the University of Nevada Las Vegas and how existing planting conditions affect which and when different performative functions are optimized. The benefits do not operate on a linear scale but rather a dynamic temporal process that accounts for annual and seasonal changes to the tree characteristics and surrounding environment. Due to this condition, it is important to understand the value and benefits of trees as a long-term investment. Through the establishment of healthy and functioning urban forests, additional performative functions within the urban context were explored to consider other environmental, social, and economic benefits. Within this study’s framework, the collective nature of plant diversity, wildlife habitat, and other benefits have the potential to transform similar urban spaces into an ecological experience by developing conservation and planting strategies dependent on appropriate planting and tree selection.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program