Ecosystem Services and Urban Forestry

Revitalizing Baltimore
Community Health
and Well-being
Jackie Carrera, Parks & People Foundation
NAASF Urban Committee Annual Meeting
May 12, 2010
Community Health and Wellbeing: The Baltimore Story
 Background
 Urban Ecosystem Services
Community Health and Well-being
 Watershed 263
Parks & People Foundation
Dedicated to supporting a wide range of
recreational and educational
opportunities, creating and sustaining
beautiful and lively parks, and
promoting a healthy, natural
environmental for Baltimore.
Parks & People Foundation
Green Communities
A sustainable urban and
community forestry program
built on research and
technology, with active
volunteer participation and
effective partnerships and
the integration of our
community’s political/policy,
social and environmental
From restoring vacant lots to
revitalizing Baltimore
Urban Resources Initiative
Revitalizing Baltimore
Baltimore Ecosystem Study
Watershed 263
Urban Ecosystem Services
The health and well being of the human
population depends on the services provided by
ecosystems and their components – organisms,
soil, water and nutrients
Services include food and water; regulation of
floods, drought, land degradation, and disease;
supporting services including soil formation and
nutrient cycling; cultural services such as
recreational, spiritual and religious
When ecosystems Services are
cut off and/or threatened
Runoff of pesticides, fertilizers, and animal waste
Pollution of land, water and air resources
Introduction of non native species
Erosion/compaction of soils
The results of
an unhealthy ecosystem on
community health and well-being
Low tree cover
Poor access to green space
Lack of connection to nature
Environmental inequality
Poor economic development/ disinvestment
Urban Forest
Baltimore hosts 2.8
million trees
Urban Forest
replacement is valued
at $3.4 billion
Tree canopy is
of land area
Neighborhood tree
canopy varies from
64% to less than 1%
Source: USFS UFORE Model and Title VIII image
Urban Ecosystem Service:
Community health and well-being
Healthy people and healthy environment are
inextricably linked
Health impacts of a degraded ecosystem are
evident, especially among poor and
vulnerable populations
Trees provide numerous public health
benefits: reduced asthma rates, lower obesity
and related diseases, as well as mental
health benefits and reduced violence and
Health Disparities
Nationally, health disparities between racial and
ethnic minority and majority groups and
lower-income and higher-income populations
are well documented.
Baltimore is a 60% African-American city with a
growing Latino presence, where 40% of
households have income less than $30,000.
A 2008 study concluded that street trees were
associated with a lower prevalence of early
childhood asthma.
Dales RE, Cakmak S, Judek S, Coates F:
Tree Pollen and Hospitalization for Asthma in Urban Canada.
Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2008;146:241-247 (DOI: 10.1159/000116360)
How Cities use Parks to Improve Public Health. Retrieved March 3, 2009, from APA Web
“Tree-lined streets ‘cut asthma.’” BBC News. May 1, 2008.
A public housing study in Chicago found that
public spaces with better grass cover and
tree canopy had increased use by
neighborhood residents, with increased
positive social activity and increased healthy
physical activity.
Levine-Coley, R, Kuo F, Sullivan W: “Where does the community grow? The social context
created by nature in urban public housing.” Environment and Behavior 1998 , 30(1):3 – 27.
Mental Health and
Reduced Violence and Aggression
Aggression and violence, and incidents of
domestic violence, are lower in buildings with
more greenery nearby.
Kuo, Frances E. and William C. Sullivan. “Aggression and Violence in the
Inner City: Effects of Environment via Mental Fatigue.” Environment and Behavior,
Vol. 33 No. 4. 2001.
Children with behavior disorders concentrate and
complete tasks better after spending time near
Frumkin, Howard. “Healthy Places: Exploring the Evidence.” American Journal of Public
Health. Vol. 93, No. 9. 2003.
Other Health Indicators
Contact with trees leads to lower blood
pressure and cholesterol, quicker recovery
from surgery, increased survival rates
following a heart attack, lower stress levels
and fewer minor medical ailments.
American Planning Association. “How Cities Use Parks to Improve Public
Health.” 2003.
Watershed 263
To develop a watershed and urban forest
restoration project and implement
measurable improvements with active
community participation and stewardship for
a watershed of enclosed streams where the
environmental quality and social fabric are
both impaired and revitalization is greatly
Storm Sewer Watershed 263
Watershed 263
Bush Street Outfall
(25 feet diameter) 
“Bush” Street River
Bush Street
(looking north west)
Can we reverse the trend?
Yes, we can!
Shared responsibility/collaboration
Research and Technology
Concerted action
Political Commitment
Primary Partners: Baltimore City Department of Public
Works, Parks & People Foundation, U.S. Forest Service,
Baltimore Ecosystem Study, MD DNR
Funding support: U.S. Forest Service, DNR Maryland
Forest Service and Green Fund, National Fish and
Wildlife Foundation/EPA, NOAA, Baltimore City
Department of Public Works, Baltimore City
Planning/Critical Areas Mitigation, Chesapeake Bay
Trust, Rauch Foundation, and Campbell Foundation for
the Environment.
Research and Technology
Baltimore Ecosystem Study
Program Surveys
Literature Reviews
Concerted Action
Prepare a model urban storm sewer watershed
management plan and greening strategy that can be
replicated by others.
Organize and educate watershed residents and
organizations to effectively participate as stakeholders.
Improve communications and coordination among
many agencies and organizations and undertake
education and outreach campaigns.
Identify the “universe” of cost-effective, communitybased remediation activities.
Undertake restoration demonstration projects and
measure and report outcomes.
Standing water at
Franklin Square ES
Franklin Square ES
Children’s Reading Circle
Franklin Square
Provide safe healthy
alternatives for at-risk youth
Job training and
environmental education
Public Housing Project
….and foster local economic
Green Career Ladder
 KidsGrow
 Schoolyard Greening
 Project Blue
High School
 Civic Justice Corps
College Internships
 Urban Resources
Workforce Development
 Green Up! Clean UP!
Encourage environmental
Community Grants
Partnership for Parks
Neighborhood Greening
GROW Workshops
Reconnect children with
Outdoor Classrooms
Nature Play Areas
Schoolyard Greening
Work Days
Accomplishments to Date
Prepared a water quality restoration plan and a
SWMM model for water quality project planning as well
as surveyed, mapped and monitored 43 miles of
storm drains based on a set of urban watershed
Facilitated a community proposal for a watershed
greening strategy including creating a 6-mile
neighborhood bicycle and pedestrian “trail” connecting
all historic parks and school sites to the existing 15-mile
Gwynns Falls Trail.
Conducted 50 public education and training
workshops and engaged residents.
Accomplishments to Date
Organized education and outreach campaigns and restoration
projects at 11 schools with 10 neighborhood associations and 5
Assisted with the removal of nearly 4 acres of obsolete
schoolyard asphalt and the re-greening of the area with school
students, teachers and parents actively involved.
Implemented more than 15 community-initiated watershed
restoration demonstration projects.
Planted more than 800 street, park and schoolyard trees and
mulched and cared for many more trees with community
volunteers and AmeriCorp youth crews along the proposed
neighborhood “trail” connecting to the Gwynns Falls Trail in the
lower industrial portion of the watershed.
Accomplishments to Date
Analyzed 190 acres of city-owned and 40 acres of privatelyowned open space for future restoration opportunities.
Assisted the Baltimore Ecosystem Study researchers including
USFS and City DPW staff in undertaking base condition data
collection, assessment and water quality monitoring.
Formed a community-based Watershed Stakeholder Council to
assist with long-term management, monitoring and evaluation of
project implementation of the watershed restoration project.
Implemented 9 specifically designed restoration demonstration
projects in one of two sub-drainage basin of 40 acres that are
monitored by Baltimore Ecosystem Study for storm water
conditions and begin storm water harvesting projects

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