Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2013 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Itís Not Easy Going Green: Obstacles to Tree-Planting Programs in East Baltimore
Poster only for Geoff Buckley's student, Poster only for Geoff Buckley's student
Co-Authors: Mike Battaglia (Ohio University), Geoffrey L. Buckley (Ohio University), J. Morgan Grove (USDA Forest Service), and Mike Galvin (SavATree)

East Baltimore is one section of the city that has long exhibited a noticeable lack of trees. In 1965, a city-wide tree survey revealed that East Baltimore was "practically denuded of trees." When the city forester attempted to plant trees in these neighborhoods, however, he learned that many East Baltimoreans opposed the city's new tree planting program. Known in the local press as the "tree rebels," these residents claimed to prefer "clean, uncluttered concrete" to urban trees. Now, 40 years later, this section of the city has experienced tremendous demographic change. Formerly inhabited by immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, it is now mostly African American. Because there are still so few trees in several of these neighborhoods, it would seem to be an obvious target for TreeBaltimore. However, the decision to focus planting efforts here should not be made hastily. Many variables must be taken into consideration to ensure that new tree planting will be successful. For this project, we used GIS techniques to measure "plantable space" in two East Baltimore neighborhoods: Berea and Madison-Eastend. We then conducted interviews to gauge residentsí level of support for tree planting programs. While enough plantable space exists to increase canopy cover by ten percent, we found that residents remain skeptical of the city's efforts to plant trees, albeit for very different reasons than those expressed by the "tree rebels" of the 1950s and 1960s.