Trees and the Health of Communities | Guest: Geoffrey Donovan, US Forest Service

John Pattison
John Pattison


More Resources on this Topic 

“Trees are an easily modifiable part of our landscape”

Geoffrey's work and research highlights are all available here. It is a treasure trove of interesting and impactful content!

 Current Research
Geoffrey's main research focus is quantifying the benefits of urban trees. These benefits range from the intuitive, reduced summertime cooling costs, to the surprising—improved public-health outcomes. Geoffrey's past research mainly focused on the economics of wildfire management.


Questions covered in this discussion:

- What is an urban forester and who becomes an urban forester? 
- Let's go to the outer edges of many of our communities in the northwest and southwest United States and western Canada: you've published on and worked on forest fire impact mitigation and the adaptation of building practices to reduce the personal and financial impacts of forest fires. 
- What's going on that concerns you when it comes to development practices in boundary areas and transition zones from urban to wilderness areas? Where do you see signs of hope that we're starting to get what it is going to take? 
- Can you touch on traditional patterns of fire protection or damage mitigation that have been belatedly relearned or popularized? What do rural districts and towns need to invest in? What do they need to stop? What do they need to require residents to do and what should be encouraged through public education? 
Let's move into our more urban areas: what role does the urban tree have in creating safe, livable, and inviting places? 
- One of the perks of living in town is that sewage and storm water is whisked away from your home or workplace and you don't have to worry about it. This elaborate system is often assumed to work best when there are few trees to “mess things up”. Why is this a big error? And how can people who care about pipes, perimeter drains and sidewalks be convinced to love trees? 
- You've written about urban trees and housing costs: Strong Towns advocates are passionate about both but don't always connect them: how are they connected and in what ways does it matter for a range of overlapping issues in our communities? 
- What do towns and cities need to add to the policy mix and built environment practices to have a healthy urban forest?
- What are things that you do as a resident of your community to improve conditions for trees? How do we add tree care to the list of things we do as strong citizens? What can we do this afternoon? 


A fun read to introduce people to this topic:

“a mature tree is the opposite of a broken window” 

Daniel Herriges' article on regulations has a lot of overlap with the policy landscape that has created the distress we see in our communities:  

One group doing great advocacy work: 



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