Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2009 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Simulating the effects of green infrastructure investment in Watershed 263
Voigt, Brian
Co-Authors: Brian Voigt and Morgan Grove

Abstract: Classified high-resolution imagery (2007) indicates that more than 70% of the total land area of watershed 263 (W263) is impervious surface, while only 13.7% is covered by tree canopy. Recent household-level survey data (2006) has demonstrated that a majority of residents within W263 have a negative perception of their quality of life based in part on neighborhood disamenities such as crime, abandonment and degraded environmental conditions. Investing in green infrastructure, such as tree planting, is one potential means of mitigating such hardships. Further, Mayor Dixon recently announced a goal of establishing a citywide tree canopy cover of 40% over the next 30 years (a 13% increase over the current level). This paper addresses three issues related to the tree canopy goal: 1) Is 40% tree canopy cover realistic for W263 given the amount of private land and land allocated for transportation infrastructure? 2) How many new trees will be required to achieve the stated goal? 3) What types of social response(s) by residents of W263 are likely to manifest themselves in light of the proposed greening interventions? To that end, a dynamic, spatially explicit modeling tool has been designed to simulate interactions between the biophysical and socio-economic sub-systems within the watershed. Based on our understanding of the relationships and feedbacks among system components, modeling "what-if" scenarios that control the frequency, magnitude and locations of specific interventions allows us to test their effects on household-level decision making while defining the range of system response(s) to such interventions.