Melinda Housholder, Director of Urban Forest Program
In April, I met with TreeVitalize Pittsburgh, a group whose goal is to plant 20,000 trees in the Pittsburgh region by the end of 2012. TreeVitalize Pittsburgh is a partnership of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Tree Pittsburgh. By promoting and establishing a healthy urban forest, it hopes to provide increased environmental, economic and social benefits to all residents of the Pittsburgh region. American Forests is currently working with TreeVitalize Pittsburgh and their partners to use scientific measures and methods to assess the benefits of their urban forests. We are also partnering with the Alcoa Foundation to help TreeVitalize Pittsburgh fund the planting of 6,800 trees in the city.
During my visit, I saw the diversity of the urban-forest plantings being done by TreeVitalize Pittsburgh. Their work includes planting trees along riverfront trails, downtown sidewalks, busy roadways, community gardens and steep hills and in front of businesses and neighborhood homes. I also participated in two of their volunteer planting days, where more than 400 trees were planted along the riverfront of the South Side Three Rivers Park and nearby streets. It was great to see the Pittsburgh community so enthusiastic about getting involved in their local urban forest.
The visit helped me gain a better understanding of the urban-forest ecosystem in Pittsburgh, especially the proximity of the urban forest to the three local rivers. We look forward to continuing to work with TreeVitalize Pittsburgh and their partners to assess the benefits of the urban forests on their local watershed. It is our hope that by measuring these benefits, support can continue to grow for creating and maintaining sustainable urban forests throughout Pittsburgh and other cities across the country.