Contemporary Issues in Urban Forest Management: #2 Sustainability

Forest Sustainability Within a Metropolitan Watershed
Steps Recommended by the Tampa Bay Forest Working Group

Management approaches to the sustainability of urban and urbanizing forests are poorly defined in both scope and application (Clark et al. 1997). As our populations grow, urban centers expand into the countryside, changing the character and function of forests, and there value to human society. How we work toward achieving the goal of sustainability will have a direct impact on not only human health and well-being, but the well-being of all living creatures with our metropolitan watersheds. Older models of urban forest management were tree-centric. These saw the individual tree as the key point of conservation within urban areas. While this approach persisted for centuries, and remains an important component of urban forest management today, it does not fully meet the conservation needs of the urbanizing environment found in this Age of the Anthropocene.

Below are a series of steps recommended by the Tampa Bay Watershed Forest Working Group for initiating a sustainable approach to forest conservation in urban and urbanizing regions. It is not intended to be definitive, but a starting point.

Investigation of these Key Resource Trends
  • Loss of forest cover and shifts in forestland use
  • Parcelization of private woodlands into smaller and more numerous tracts
  • Loss of biological diversity
  • Increase of exotic – invasive species of plants and animals
  • Increased susceptibility to insect and disease
Development of Needed Implementation Mechanisms for Conservation
  • Voluntary market-based approaches to conservation
  • Monetization of ecosystem services
  • Protection of critical forest lands
  • Community-based stewardship
  • Public and private easements
  • Strategic and management planning
  • Targeted forest research and technology transfer
Development of Information Management Systems
  • Creation of baseline mapping of forest
  • Development of protocols for collecting, organizing and sharing data
  • Objective monitoring of change
  • Assessment of condition and effectiveness of protected areas
  • Organization of information so it is useful to decision-making

The Tampa Bay Watershed – Forest Working Group is a collaboration local, state and federal urban and community forestry professionals and researchers whose focus is on the development of information and technologies that promote forest sustainability in the Tampa Bay Watershed.