Workshop Report/Summary

There is growing interest in understanding and quantifying the many benefits that trees provide to the urban environment; for instance, helping mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon; lowering demand for air conditioning by shading buildings; reducing air pollution and urban heat island effects; and intercepting water runoff to help control stormwater overflow problems. Research shows that exposure to trees and green spaces in metropolitan areas also provides many important socio-economic and mental health benefits. To investigate research directions in urban forestry, the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate held a workshop that brought together scientists and stakeholders with a wide diversity of interests to share information and perspectives. Discussion topics included current capabilities to characterize and quantify the benefits (and potential dis-benefits) of urban trees; key gaps in abilities to model, measure, and monitor such impacts; and the challenges of managing urban forests to optimize multiple ecosystem services simultaneously. Participants identified opportunities for enhancing collaboration and coordination on these issues among federal agencies, academic researchers, and other stakeholders. The workshop discussions indicated that enhanced collaboration and development of new research paradigms and tools is necessary, in order to fully understand the role of trees in the urban ecosystem.