A Primer on Local Policy

Episode 6: A Primer on Local Policy 

We were feeling nerdy this episode everybody! Dr. Christine Carmichael and I broke down the ins and outs of local policy that affects the distribution, and quality of urban forests.  

Christine and I aren’t the only folks passionate about fairness and equity in urban forest management though! We Threw Shade on the Washington, DC Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) for their efforts to hold developers more accountable to the health of the urban forest. The UFA maintains up-to-date LIDAR maps of their trees – maps from laser-generated satellite imagery – so they know in almost real-time when trees go suspiciously missing. Through tree stump assessments, the UFA experts can estimate the height of a tree that has been cut down and issue fines to developers accordingly.  Lasers for the win!  

During our segment, Getting to the Root of it, we channeled our inner urban forest wonks to talk taxes, state and local programs, the difference between policies and ordinances, and the effects of 80% of U.S. urban forests being privately owned. Can you believe that?! It’s wild. That means Most trees in cities are somebody’s property, meaning the public has little if any say in how those trees get managed. This limits a city’s ability to hold private property owners accountable, but if DC’s UFA is any example, there are lots of opportunities to use technology to improve our odds to manage urban forests for the public good.  

Listen in for ideas on how you can be part of collective action to change urban forest policies and ordinances in your area to reflect public priorities! You can contact your State Urban Forestry Coordinator  here to learn more.  

Email us your thoughts on urban forest policy at ShakeTheTreePodcast@gmail.com.