After the Inventory: Activating Urban Forests


  • Three approaches to measuring, enhancing, and supporting urban forests as civic amenities

  • How data and science are shaping goals for urban canopy valuation and restoration at the block, neighborhood, and municipal scale

  • Strategies to attract and sustain community and government resources for nature-based resiliency initiatives and open-space conservation

  • The spectrum of landscapes that host the urban forest, moving beyond street trees to include urban woodlands, remnant landscapes, and the adaptation of commercial-scaled tree nurseries to vacant land


Our urban forest is critical infrastructure that enhances property values, manages stormwater and provides a sense of place. In this course, you will explore three approaches to measuring, valuing, and restoring urban woodlands both citywide and at the neighborhood scale. Learn about planning processes and initiatives that move beyond street tree improvements and into the activation of underutilized urban spaces—and compare approaches in traditional-growth cities with those of urban areas managing an excess of vacant land.

This course highlights case studies from Baltimore, Detroit, and New York of urban canopy improvement programs that enlist stewardship and civic participation, each initiated through a data-driven and user-oriented approach while working towards unique local resiliency goals. Learn how New York adopted a citywide approach to measuring and valuing 7,000 acres of urban woodlands across the five boroughs, revitalizing underutilized natural forests to meet citywide resiliency goals. Explore how Baltimore paired science and stewardship with civic participation in its urban canopy improvement efforts. Examine how Detroit linked new stormwater management mandates with economic development opportunities to grow all of the trees it plants within its own municipal boundaries.