Urban Forestry

Volunteers plant a locust tree at the La Farge Library over Memorial Day weekend.

The impacts of urban heat islands can be mitigated through the implementation of Green Infrastructure strategies such as urban forestry.  Increased tree canopy in urban areas provides an alternative cooling mechanism in the form of shade producing vegetation.  In addition to cooling, plants can enhance habitat, remediate polluted runoff, and improve air quality.  Despite the value of urban forests, tree cover is diminishing in many cities (Nowak and Greenfield 2012).

In a publication examining the “Compensatory value of urban trees in the United States” authors Nowak et al. (2002) indicated that only 4.8% of the state’s urban area had tree cover.  This was second lowest percentage among states only to Wyoming.  Despite the minimal urban tree cover,  the City of Albuquerque found that for every dollar spent on maintenance by the Parks Department, the city recouped $1.31 in energy reduction, carbon sequestration, air quality, and aesthetic benefits.