BUFRG researchers (Fischer, Moxley, Freeman-Day, DeVoe, Hummel and Reamer) have developed a methodology to scan the websites of all Indiana cities with a ‘reported’ municipal urban forestry program. The process begins with a three-step approach to determine municipalities that may have an active urban forestry program. Evidence of active urban forestry programs includes: Active/recently-active Tree City USA status and/or an IDNR CUF grant to complete a street tree/canopy cover inventory/create a city urban forest plan and/or have an arborist/urban forester on staff. The end-result of this process was a listing of 75 cities deemed to possibly have an active urban forestry program (Indiana Municipal Urban Forestry Program database – IMUFP). Then we will scan each city’s website to learn all we could about each program. The final categories include a) municipality characteristics including political affiliation, organizational structure and environmental sustainability efforts undertaken b) more specific UF program characteristics such as municipal departments managing the urban forest including urban forestry inventories, plans and reports, c) connections beyond city governance structure including linkages to local higher education institutions and/or urban forestry advocacy groups.
Findings to date: Many UF programs are invisible and clearly not lead by an urban forester or arborist (only approximately 20 have a ‘trained’ leader). Second, most programs do not appear to have recent inventories, urban forestry plans, or specific goals related to UF sustainability that are easily accessible in a public platform (municipal website). Additionally, very few have documented concern for changing environmental conditions or included in their efforts adaptation to climate change effects. So, we will attempt to expand upon the website search outcomes was with a second step in the review process, the development of an on-line survey to the identified lead individual for each urban forestry program. The survey will attempt to give a more complete picture for each urban forestry program and address the question “How environmentally sustainable are Indiana’s Urban Forests?”