Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 77–96 | Cite as

Doing the Hard Work Where it’s Easiest? Examining the Relationships Between Urban Greening Programs and Social and Ecological Characteristics

  • Dexter H. LockeEmail author
  • J. Morgan Grove


In this paper we examine the performance of formal programs associated with tree plantings in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD to understand the relationships between the implementation of urban greening programs and the social and ecological characteristics of a city. Previous research has examined variations in patterns of existing and possible tree canopy cover relative to different social theories. Less attention has been paid to the processes of how the current patterns of tree canopy cover have developed. The goal of this paper is to address this gap by examining current programs to increase tree canopy. This paper utilizes public records, administrative data, a geodemographic market segmentation database, and high-resolution land cover data to assess where programs work, who participates in these programs, and whom the programs fail to reach. Recruiting households to plant trees can be hard work. In this paper, we find that programs might be most successful where it is easiest but have the lowest need. Free or reduced-cost programs for tree planting on private lands were most effective in the most affluent neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD. These areas tended to also have the most existing tree canopy on both private residential lands and the public right of way. An outcome of this research is a framework for further testing which land management strategies are most effective, where, and with whom in order to improve the ability to plan and enhance urban sustainability and resilience through urban forestry.


Adoption Urban sustainability Tree canopy Geodemographics Baltimore, MD Washington, D.C 



Most of this work was completed while working for the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Baltimore Field Station. Support for this research was provided by National Science Foundation Baltimore Ecosystem Study Long Term Ecological Research site (DEB-0423476), and Washington D.C./Baltimore Urban Long Term Research-Exploratory (DEB-0948947) grants, as well as the Libby Fund Enhancement Award and the Marion I. Wright ‘46 Travel Grant from Clark University, the Warnock Foundation /The Baltimore Social Innovation Journal, and the Edna Bailey Sussman Foundation. We thank Jessica Sanders (Casey Trees), Paul Gobster, and Lindsay Campbell (USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station) for their helpful comments that strengthened the paper. Gillian Baine (Saint Ann’s School) provided useful feedback on earlier versions of Figs. 2 and 3. We thank Michael Potts and Jim Woodworth (Casey Trees), and Jen Kullgren, Charlie Murphy, and Erik Dihle (TreeBaltimore) for providing data. Our greatest thanks go to those who actually requested or planted a tree. Because of them their neighborhoods are better places to live.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of GeographyClark UniversityWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Baltimore Field StationUMBCBaltimoreUSA

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