American Forests, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of Regional Councils, has recently launched its Vibrant Cities Lab, an online resource that provides curated information about all aspects of urban forestry. Using the visual language of city planning websites, research showing the benefits of urban trees from many different perspectives is presented in an easy-to-read format.
In the Fall 2017 issue of American Forests Magazine Ian Leahy writes: “Urban forestry as a discipline has matured to a stage whereby it is ready to integrate into the decision-making processes of the disciplines that impact tree canopy the most. Vibrant Cities Lab is an important online infrastructure to begin doing that on a national scale.”
The volume of research showing the benefits of trees for public health, economic development, transportation, and many other functions of a city that urban planners work to improve, is now considered sufficient to guide decision-making. As planners seek to produce urban environments that are vibrant and provide a good quality of life for people, they can now turn to this resource to support decisions that result in the growth and maintenance of urban canopies.
The Vibrant Cities Lab empowers citizen groups advocating for greenspace with an Urban Forestry Toolkit to organize information to help planners make better decisions that affect the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
The Users Guide includes this animated video explaining the benefits of urban forests:
By providing research and easily understood video material, the Vibrant Cities Lab has framed the discourse for citizens and urban planners alike so that intelligent decisions can be made regarding management of the vital biodiversity that sustains urban life.