by E de Guzman, R Malarich, L Large, S Danoff-Burg
Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 44(6):291-3062018
This paper explores outreach strategies with varying degrees of resident engagement in street tree stewardship in communities disproportionately affected by environmental inequities. This study uses community-based social marketing, which draws upon resident perspectives, to investigate the community’s involvement in establishing urban forests. The program was pilot-tested using literature review, focus groups, and surveys to identify benefits and barriers governing the Huntington Park community’s willingness to care for and maintain young neighborhood street trees. Outreach methods were tested by comparing active outreach, through engaging directly with residents, against passive outreach, in which residents were not directly engaged but received a package of materials promoting tree stewardship. Both methods were compared against no outreach. The results revealed that residents who neglect caring for city trees do so due to fear of unwanted increases in water bill costs, the anticipated difficulty and inconvenience tied to tree maintenance, and an overarching notion that the city is solely responsible for tree stewardship. The authors of this paper suggest there is a need to address these barriers by educating and assuring residents that there is no significant water rate increase and that there are convenient, time-efficient methods for maintenance. The outreach strategy demonstrates the critical role active engagement plays in fostering a shared sense of responsibility for tree care among residents. Based on this research, tree planting programs could find greater success in encouraging tree stewardship by implementing and improving methods to educate and actively engage the community.