Residents and Municipal Tree Policies

Cities across North America are adopting ambitious goals to increase their urban forest. As existing trees and new planting opportunities are often located on private property, residents’ support and participation is needed in order to meet these goals. However, more research is needed to examine the level of support from residents for municipal urban forestry efforts, including policies specifically targeting residential areas. The main objectives of this research are to assess levels of knowledge and support for urban forest policies targeting residential areas and determine if there are specific household characteristics associated with different levels of policy support.

Our results indicate that relatively low levels of support exist for municipal policies encouraging planting and restricting removal of trees. Several household characteristics are significantly related to level of policy support, with shorter residencies, children present in the household, higher property-level tree density and those who recently planted a tree are more supportive of the policies. Older residents were significantly less likely to support the policies, and often spoke about required maintenance being a deterrent to having more trees. Interviews also highlighted residents’ concerns about living among tall trees. The results suggest that many residents would be willing partners in urban forestry efforts. However, to increase support and participation rates, different types of trees should be part of any information or planting program to meet the varying needs of households.

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