Junior Foresters Tap
Maple Trees Downtown

BALTIMORE (ANS) -- Baltimore is transforming barren sidewalks, backyards, and abandoned lots into a thriving forest ecosystem.

"In Baltimore, we have Chinese chestnut trees which people can harvest. We have kids' programs where kids are tapping maple trees and producing syrup downtown," says Morgan Grove, a research forester with the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Services, which partially funds a model national project called Revitalizing Baltimore, in cooperation with state, county, and city agencies and not-for-profits.

"Urban forestry focuses on various ecosystem benefits such as how trees in urban areas help to reduce storm water runoff, how they improve air quality, how they provide wildlife habitat and create more shady, attractive places to live," Grove said. "In impoverished areas, you can plant trees that produce fruit and nuts."

Project manager Gren Whitman of Baltimore's Parks and People Foundation says community involvement is the key to success. "My observation of looking at people who are public servants is that they really don't understand the public. The best thing we did was get community residents active in their watersheds at the table to tell technical experts how to get real," he says.

"If you plant a tree on the street and then leave, you haven't engaged in community forestry, because the tree is going to die," says Whitman.

According to Grove, where there is no community participation in new planting, there is over 50% loss of trees. But where there is community participation, about 80% of the trees will live, because they will be cared for, not vandalized.

"In three years, we planted 1,103 street trees, most of which survived, and took on 83 separate community forestry projects in 28 neighborhoods, engaging over 3,000 adult volunteers and over 600 youths," recounts Whitman.

Posted August 15, 1997
Copyright ©1997 American News Service

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