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Green and Resilient Cities

Urban green spaces can be restorative places to connect with others and recuperate from life
Urban green spaces can be restorative places to connect with others and recuperate from life's stressors

Sometimes cities experience disasters. Some are sudden, like hurricanes or an act of violence, and others are long-term, such as economic downturns. Urban areas are also more vulnerable to disturbances associated with climate change - heat waves, coastal flooding, and extreme storms - and accumulated stresses, such as water shortages or energy disruptions. But cities can prepare for these events by building resiliency into their systems. Resilient cities are more likely to recover quickly and continue to function, and eventually thrive, after stresses like these.

The Forest Service provides science and tools to help cities become more resilient. Interdisciplinary research teams are advancing the state of knowledge and application of urban trees and green space, helping local governments, planners, and neighborhood groups understand how to build natural resources into resiliency planning, and why. Key research areas include (1) assessing tree health and building a more robust urban forest, (2) measuring the many benefits of urban green space for human well-being, (3) quantifying how trees improve the built urban environment, and (4) understanding how interactions with nature strengthen individuals and communities.

Much of our urban research is applicable to resilience planning. View our urban resilience research brief (PDF) to learn more about our work and select research highlights.

Checkout our webinar on urban resilience »

Related Forest Service Websites

  • The USFS Climate Change Resource Center provides a synthesis paper on urban forests and climate change, with management options for strengthening local resilience against climate impacts. The site includes recommended reading, research summaries, and other helpful resources. More »
  • The USFS New York City Urban Field Station conducts and supports research to promote environmental stewardship, ecological literacy, and urban ecosystem management in the NYC metropolitan area. Scientists are leaders in resilience research, providing knowledge and tools for other communities in the U.S. and internationally. More »
  • Long-term USFS urban hydrology and stream ecology research in Baltimore is advancing our understanding of how vegetation and impervious surfaces affect urban streams. This information can help cities restore their waterways, plan for large storm events, and provide cleaner streams for recreation and aquatic life. More »
  • Municipal arborists can provide disaster planning assistance to communities, tree risk assessments, and FEMA debris identification following storms. The Urban Forest Strike Team website provides training information and resource guides to support strike teams across the U.S. More »
  • The USFS partners with the University of Washington to maintain Green Cities: Good Health, a website that pulls together 40 years of research showing how the experience of nature improves human health, well-being, and resilience. More »
  • The Forest Service provides information and decision tools to help communities manage their trees as part of the broader urban-to-rural landscape, articulate the value of their urban forest resource, and learn from active stewardship groups and their networks. This information is foundational for smart growth and resilience planning that seeks to improve public health and the quality of the urban environment. More »