NEW YORK – From June 4 through 15, twenty participants from fifteen countries visited Chicago and New York City as part of the International Seminar on Urban Forestry, organized by the International Programs office with support from NRS Chicago and New York City Urban Field Stations as well as State and Private Forestry. Numerous USDA Forest Service partners met with the international visitors, including mid-career professionals from government agencies and non-governmental organizations involved in a wide range of urban issues.
Participants learned about approaches to improving lives by balancing natural resource conservation with urban development needs, all while highlighting that people must be engaged where they live. Themes such as considering environmental justice issues, developing green infrastructure, strengthening community and ecological resiliency and determining the economic valuation of trees demonstrated the amount and variety of stakeholders in urban areas. Because over half of the world’s population lives in cities, it is important for the Forest Service to foster international dialogue and collaboration on these issues.
The group met with members of non-governmental organizations, municipal representatives, corporate partners, teachers, and even private citizens. Presenters discussed environmental activism, how urban agriculture can be used to provide greater access to healthy foods in underserved communities, and using nature to work with different audiences, from students and parents to adults with special abilities.
On the technical side, participants relished the opportunity to learn about tools like i-Tree for measuring tree canopy and valuating the benefits provided by an urban tree and STEW-MAP for mapping stewardship groups and civic engagement on environmental issues. Since youth is the fastest growing demographic in urban areas around the world, participants at this seminar enjoyed seeing successful examples of youth engagement.
The International Seminar on Urban Forestry is one of ten international seminars led by the USFS International Programs office every year. More information on these seminars is available here.