Guest post by former LUFA student Kaitlyn Pike. Kaitlyn graduated from DePaul in June 2020 with her M.S. in Environmental Science and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Forestry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
In December, my first peer-reviewed paper, “Tree preservation during construction: An evaluation of a comprehensive municipal ordinance,” was accepted for publication in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. My paper, which evaluated the effectiveness of a tree preservation ordinance in the City of Highland Park, was my thesis research that I completed during my time in DePaul’s M.S. in Environmental Science program.
As we know, mature trees provide us with a plethora of benefits – from carbon sequestration and stormwater management, to improvements to our mental and physical health (Roy et al., 2012). As urban populations continue to rise, however, protecting mature trees has proven to be a challenge for towns and cities that wish to maintain or increase their tree cover. This is particularly important, as studies continue to find that unrestricted construction can negatively impact the condition and survival of trees (Koeser et al., 2013; Morgenroth et al., 2017; Guo et al., 2018, 2019). While tree preservation ordinances (i.e. rules and regulations that protect trees during construction projects) are becoming more common for public trees on public property, it is less common that these types of ordinances exist for private trees on private properties.
Highland Park, IL, a city with a robust and well-funded forestry department, has had a tree preservation in place for the past few decades. Having already worked with Highland Park’s City Forester, Dr. Keith O’Herrin, on another project during my B.A. in Environmental Studies, working with the City to evaluate their tree preservation ordinance for my M.S. was a great opportunity to gain further experience designing and implementing a research project that aimed to solve a real-world problem. Working with Highland Park’s Forestry Section not only gave me invaluable experience into how forestry departments operate, but allowed me to utilize municipal and public records in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the City’s tree preservation ordinance.
The results of my research found that the City of Highland Park is successfully protecting the trees on properties that undergo residential redevelopment – where existing, older homes were demolished and replaced with newer homes. This was evident through 1) a satisfactory tree preservation rate (calculated by using construction site maps to determine which trees were removed after construction occurred vs. which still remained), 2) having found no correlation between tree condition or survival and a tree’s distance from a newly built home (contrary to what previous studies had found where no ordinance was in place), and 3) having found that the soil within the critical root zones of trees was successfully maintained (by not surpassing the literature-recommended compaction level for healthy root growth). Furthermore, my research found that areas where construction activities occurred freely had more compacted soils, while areas where construction was restricted (within the critical root zones of trees) had less compacted soils. This is one of the first studies that demonstrates how tree preservation ordinances can successfully protect trees and soils on properties that undergo construction.
If you’re interested in reading my paper, you can find it here. I was also able to share my results as a poster at the 2020 International Society of Arboriculture Annual Conference, which can be viewed here (or click on the poster below). Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me regarding my research, or if you have any questions about my experiences in LUFA or DePaul’s M.S. in Environmental Science program: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guo, T., Morgenroth, J., & Conway, T. (2018). Redeveloping the urban forest: The effect of redevelopment and property-scale variables on tree removal and retention. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2018.08.012
Guo, T., Morgenroth, J., Conway, T., & Xu, C. (2019). City-wide canopy cover decline due to residential property redevelopment in Christchurch, New Zealand. Science of the Total Environment. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.122
Koeser, A., Hauer, R., Norris, K., & Krouse, R. (2013). Factors influencing long-term street tree survival in Milwaukee, WI, USA. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2013.05.006
Morgenroth, J., O’Neil-Dunne, J., & Apiolaza, L. A. (2017). Redevelopment and the urban forest: A study of tree removal and retention during demolition activities. Applied Geography. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2017.02.011
Roy, S., Byrne, J., & Pickering, C. (2012). A systematic quantitative review of urban tree benefits, costs, and assessment methods across cities in different climatic zones. In Urban Forestry and Urban Greening (Vol. 11, Issue 4, pp. 351–363). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2012.06.006
Hello urban forestry world!
My Environmental Sciences and Studies department at DePaul University in Chicago has a relatively new MS degree in Environmental Science that is now accepting applications for program entry in Fall 2020, Winter 2021, or Spring 2021! Full program information and links at the end of this post.
While not a degree in urban forestry, the program is decidedly urban-focused, with options for completing either a Professional (project-and internship-based) or Thesis (research-based) tracks. We have current Professional-track students who have been working for various local urban forestry and urban/suburban conservation organizations. And just this past spring we graduated our first MS thesis student, long-term LUFA research assistant Kaitlyn Pike, who did research on tree condition and construction on private property under the advisement of myself and the city forester for Highland Park, Dr. Keith O’Herrin, and funded by the Morton Arboretum Center for Tree Science. (Kaitlyn is off to UBC for her Ph.D. in urban forestry this fall!)
The Chicago area is a great place to live and work in the urban greening field. The area is well-endowed with urban forestry organizations - the Morton Arboretum, Openlands, Chicago Region Trees Initiative, CommuniTree in Northwest Indiana, just to name a very few - many of which LUFA has worked with and ENV students past and present have found internship/job opportunities with.
You can start the master’s program this fall (or winter, or spring) if you’re interested!
Please feel free to reach out to me (email@example.com) or my colleague ENV chair and MS program director Dr. Mark Potosnak (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions. I’m happy to have Zoom, phone, or email convos with potential applicants.
Applications are being accepted now for DePaul University’s MS in Environmental Science (MSES) degree focused on urban ecological restoration and conservation land management!
This is a very student-focused program. Please see this video which highlights several current students and their perspectives.
This graduate degree will prepare students for careers in ecological restoration, species and landscape conservation, biodiversity management, urban forestry, green infrastructure management, and ecological consultancy. Our department's expertise is in applied environmental science and this will bring exciting and useful training in the field of conservation land management. The program has both thesis (research) and professional tracks.
Additional program information is available at: http://go.depaul.edu/envsciinfo.
Environmental Science & Studies Department faculty have disciplinary expertise in paleontology, plant-atmosphere interactions, restoration ecology, urban forestry, urban agriculture, ecological economics, soil ecology and science, urban ecology, and related fields. Students complete 13 course equivalents, with an expectation that full-time students can complete the program in two academic years. The program is housed in the McGowan South Building (LEED certified) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, which provides a modern research infrastructure that includes laboratories, analytical facilities, environmental growth chambers, a rooftop garden, and a greenhouse.
The program is accepting applications on a rolling basis for enrollment in Winter, Spring, or Fall quarters (though a Fall quarter start is encouraged) so interested prospective students should apply now! Applications received by Jul 15 will be considered for the Fall quarter start date of Wed Sep 9 2020.
Please contact the program director, Mark Potosnak at email@example.com or 773-325-7867 if you have any questions.
It’s been a busy summer for LUFA! Since so much has happened, I thought I’d write a quick update with some of the key accomplishments of our lab.
First off, LUFA students Margaret Abood, Kaitlyn Pike, and Cecilia Shoopmann and I just got back from attending the 2018 International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Some highlights from the event:
Overall, we all had a great time learning and networking! Cecilia, Margaret, and Kaitlyn represented LUFA, the Environmental Science & Studies Department, and DePaul well. I was very proud. At the end, the students all said, “I can’t wait to come back next year,” which means the future of urban forestry is bright!
In other news from earlier in the summer, Kaitlyn Pike was awarded the highly competitive Garden Club of America Zone VI Fellowship in Urban Forestry to support her summer research on trees and construction, conducted in collaboration with Highland Park City Forester Keith O’Herrin. Kaitlyn will be starting our department’s brand new Masters of Science in Environmental Science this fall, and her summer project is the beginning of what will be her master’s thesis research. Kaitlyn was also awarded a scholarship from the TREE Fund (Tree Research and Education Endowment). Between all this and her AREA Student Travel Grant, you can’t stop this young researcher! I personally look forward to being her thesis supervisor for the next two years.
The final LUFA news update is international: On Sunday, August 12th, I’m headed to China! I’ve been invited by researchers at Henan Agricultural University to be a Visiting Foreign Expert at the International Lab of Henan Provincial Landscape Architecture in Zhengzhou, Henan. I’ll be there for 3 weeks, during which time I’ll give talks on climate change & urban forests, transdisciplinary research, how to write a high-quality scientific paper, mixed methods research, and learn from my Chinese colleagues (and nearly 50 graduate students at the International Lab!) about urban greening research and practice in China. Stay tuned for a full report when I return in September!
It's finally spring...or at least warm enough for trees! While it may still be a few degrees below average and one of the colder springs we've had in a while, it's time to start planting trees!
This April and May, members from the LUFA team will be heading down to Northwest Indiana nearly every Saturday to plant trees with the Student Conservation Association's (SCA) Calumet Tree Conservation Corps, which is part of the grant-funded CommuniTree program. CommuniTree and SCA are in the midst of a multi-year effort to plant thousands of trees on public properties and post-industrial brownfield lands in order to provide benefits to the people and ecosystems of the cities of Gary, Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago as well as surrounding communities.
Not only will we be planting trees in parks, golf courses, along streets, and in other public spaces, but LUFA is also conducting a survey of the volunteers that show up to these tree planting events. This is part of the CommuniTree Program Evaluation research being conducted by Dr. Jess Vogt & LUFA students. We're trying to learn more about the types of people that volunteer, how they find out about the event, and what motivates people to come out and plant trees, in order to evaluate the outcomes of grant-funded tree planting for people and ecosystems, as well as help CommuniTree (in only its second year) improve their programming.
At these tree planting events, we're conducting our version of participatory-action research, where LUFA team members attend the event not only in our capacity as researchers to learn, observe, and collect data, but also as full participants in the tree planting activities itself. We get our hands dirty planting trees right along side the SCA crew members and volunteers from the community! See the photographic evidence below from recent plantings in Gary, IN.
For the April 7th planting at IU Northwest, we (Jess, LUFA research assistant Mimi Payne and ENV freshman Tyler Bogartz-Brown) joined the SCA crew, USFS's Drew Hart, SCA's Daiva Gylys, and a large group of volunteers from IUN, the Calumet Artist Residency, Girl Trek, and many more (42 people in total!) to plant 52 trees along Broadway St. This past Saturday, April 20 we were at Washington/Reed Park where we planted 20 trees with the small-but-mighty group consisting of the 4-person Calumet crew and SCA staff CM Tena, plus myself (Jess), LUFA RAs Kaitlyn Pike and Becca Brokaw, and ENV sophomore Taylor Gold). For both dates - and all Saturday tree plantings this season - the day was led by the fantastic 4-member SCA Calumet Tree Conservation Corps: crew leader BreShaun and crew members Joe, Jerome, and Jasmine.
Follow along with the spring CommuniTree activities at the Calumet Tree Conservation Corps Facebook page, the CommuniTree Facebook page, and the SCA Chicago Midwest Facebook page. We'll also keep posting updates and more pictures here at the LUFA blog (and next fall, tune in for the results of the research we're conducting with CommuniTree).
And...come join us some Saturday down in Indiana!
It's that time of year again when the trees and flowers are in bloom - spring! As a scholar of urban forests, these are the months when I most appreciate the green infrastructure of our city. After a long, dark, cold, grey winter, the flowers and green are welcome.
In particular, I frequently find myself stopping to photograph the beautiful boulevards (I call them "tree lawns" since I study trees) on my walking commute to and from DePaul University's Lincoln Park Campus. Below are some of my favorite tree lawns from the past couple weeks.
(I've also included a few of my not-so-favorite rights-of-way: tree pits and streets that show the notorious lack of stormwater management and ability to cope with heavy spring rains. Signs of Chicago's aging infrastructure, as well as the heavier rain events that are symptomatic of climate change. Both the first and last picture show streets and boulevards that don't drain particularly well.)
It's the end of fall quarter here at DePaul, which means the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and winter break are upon us. The ink on grades is still drying, and it's a time to slow down and reflect a bit on the learning of the past ten weeks. I'd like to share with you a thoughtful end-of-quarter course reflection, written by Declan McInerney, a student in my ENV 151 Intro to Sustainability class.
Before this course, the word sustainability brought images of dirty hippies living on vegan communes in huts made from recycled garbage. That’s not to say that it’s not an image I could get behind, but my feelings were that sustainability was reserved for those living on the fringes of society. Through this course I’ve come to realize that sustainability is actually something all of us should be thinking about and striving for. In fact, we don’t even have to sacrifice our urban lifestyle to do so. Sustainability is not about retreating to caveman technology in order to save the planet. Quite the opposite, sustainability is about redefining our relationship to technology and compensating our society for the needs of the planet. This doesn’t mean running off to the woods and becoming feral; it means constructing urban gardens, developing more efficient systems, utilizing new technologies and designing smarter products. Sustainability appears to be the wave of the future and I’m excited to ride it!
Well said, Declan. And happy sustainable holidays everyone!
LUFA research students Greg Skora, Erik Espeland, and Sam Conrad presented their research at the DePaul University 14th Annual Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Technology Undergraduate Research Showcase on Friday, November 4th. The Showcase is the annual DePaul College of Science and Health event at which over 75 students present research performed for senior thesis projects, as part of the Undergraduate Research Assistantship Program (URAP), through independent study, or during fellowships and internships at organizations across Chicago and the country.
For more details on what LUFA students presented, check out the PDFs of LUFA student posters on the Neighborhood Tree Planting and Climate Change project pages!