The urban forestry profession is getting more recognition in the United States, with three universities banding together to advance the profession.

Universities Unite to Promote Industry:

According to an article by the Associated Press, the team of researchers from the universities from Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland has launched Urban Forestry 2020.

“The project aims to examine the challenges faced by the urban forestry profession and devise strategies for advancing the profession.”

The project is partly funded by the United States Forest Service and includes representatives from Virginia State University, Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

With the rise of urban forests in many cities around the globe, the management of trees and green spaces has never been more important. AP said that “while the profession has advanced rapidly over the last 20 years, there are many issues that need to be faced to move it forward”.

Urban Forestry 2020 is a three-year study funded by the US Forest Service through the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council to assess perceptions of the urban forestry profession and make recommendations for future development.

“Urban forestry is maturing as both a profession and an academic discipline, yet the public and those in allied professions have differing impressions of what urban forestry is, what an urban forester knows, and the implications of various types of education, certifications, and credentials.

“The project aims to develop strategies based on solid research for moving the profession forward through developing a consensus-building framework among regional organizations and stakeholders as well as a rigorous research to determine current perceptions of the profession and what influences those perceptions.”

The project’s steering committee includes representatives from urban forestry organisations and allied professions and constituencies within the mid-Atlantic region and nationally. The members of the committee come from various fields including urban planning, landscape architecture and civil engineering.

“The beauty of the urban forestry profession is its interdisciplinary nature,” said Susan Day, associate professor of urban forestry at Virginia Tech and the project’s lead investigator, told AP.

“People from diverse backgrounds work together to solve problems with a critical urban natural resource that has a big impact on our day-to-day lives. But the field’s interdisciplinary nature is also a challenge when it comes to networking and education, and the profession is experiencing some growing pains.”

The project will look at the recruitment process into the industry, accreditation of university urban forestry degree programs, and professional credentialing and networking of urban foresters.

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