Evaluating the Outcomes of Urban Forestry: Research with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

In the spring of 2011, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. – a nonprofit tree planting and urban greening organization in Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana – approached Burney Fischer about evaluating the success of KIB’s neighborhood tree planting programs. Burney and PhD students Jess Vogt and Sarah Mincey, and then-MPA/MSES student Matt Patterson designed a project to determine the survival and growth of trees planted through KIB’s NeighborWoods program, and, in particular, examine the relationship between tree planting and neighborhood collective action.

During the summer of 2011, Jess and Sarah developed and tested a planted tree re-inventory protocol that was adapted from the Urban Forestry Data Standards and informed by the SES Framework (Ostrom 2009) and Clark et al. (1997) model of Sustainable Urban Forestry (see Urban Forests as Social-Ecological Systems). This protocol was created for use by high school students with help from Jennifer Swilik, IUB SPEA undergraduate and KIB Youth Tree Team Leader. In the summer of 2012, four high school members of KIB’s Youth Tree Team were trained in data collection methods and supervised in the field by Jennifer as they collected data on a total of over 800 trees planted between 2006 and 2009 in 25 Indianapolis neighborhoods. Jess and Sarah also interviewed neighborhood leaders in 19 of these neighborhoods to get information about the experience of the people in the neighborhood and about watering strategies implemented to maintain trees.

Currently, we are working on publications using this data. Most recently, Jess and Shannon presented results of survival and growth models at the Association of SPEA PhD Students Annual Conference, and are currently working on a manuscript.

Project Documents

Planted Tree Re-Inventory Protocol: Latest draft (last updated February 2013)

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