In late 2010 the U.S. Forest Service and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) launched a national initiative entitled Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests: A National Call to Action to promote and improve urban forests and green infrastructure in our nation’s cities and municipalities. As a result of the workshop, the Vibrant Cities Task Force crafted a vision, set of recommendations and action steps that can improve our cities over the next decade and beyond and released the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests Report.
Bringing together the observations and recommendations of 25 experts across multiple disciplines, the Vibrant Cities Report presents a new framework for understanding the benefits of urban and community forestry. Offering a cohesive and cogent statement for what urban and community forestry means to our cities, the Report establishes a vision, highlights emerging trends, and culminates with a series of recommendations that can be applied to urban areas across the U.S.
The vision of the Report is to “explore the implications of integrated natural and built urban environments and their possibilities for the future.” Put another way, the aim of the Vibrant Cities Report is to show how urban and community forestry can be used to solve problems that face our cities, particularly in areas that are not immediately obvious. Most notably, the Report calls out how the urban forest, working as green infrastructure by complementing the built environment to address issues such as stormwater runoff, functions as part of a larger urban ecosystem. Taking another example, the benefits of trees also extend to the realm of public health through their ability to mitigate air pollution and extreme heat in cities.
By framing urban forestry as a solution to not only the environmental, but also the social, economic and public health issues that face cities, the Report empowers decision makers to unlock the myriad benefits offered by trees and green infrastructure.
In 2012 in an effort to keep the momentum going after the release of the Vibrant Cities Report, the Sustainable Urban Forestry Coalition (SUFC), of which APWA is a member, accepted a challenge by the Us Forest Service to catalyze action around the recommendations under the banner of Vibrant Communities: Trees Are the Key.
In 2013, SUFC unveiled an open-source Trees Are the Key communications platform and toolkit to bring its partners and allies together around a common purpose: to raise awareness about the Vibrant Cities recommendations and the critical role urban forests play in growing and maintaining healthy, resilient, equitable and vibrant communities.
The new web-based toolkit includes a "how-to" guide -- to help spread the word about the Vibrant Cities recommendations and the benefits of trees to our communities. These tools, including web content, a self-guided Prezi presentation, an electronic brochure, presentation slides, issue-specific talking points, a sample proclamation, live-read radio PSAs, letters to the editor, and a model op-ed, are all open-source materials available for you and your organizations to adapt and use as you see fit.