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Wednesday, April 11 • 4:15pm - 4:30pm
SYMPOSIA-15: Institutional, Ecological, and Socio-Economic Drivers of Urban Tree Cover in Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan

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AUTHORS: Daniel M. Kashian*, Wayne State University

ABSTRACT: Tree cover has important benefits in urban areas, including pollutant filtration, cooling effects, increasing property values, and a host of human health benefits. Many American cities, including Detroit and its suburbs, experienced government-led categorization of neighborhoods based on perceived credit worthiness and risk for housing development during the Great Depression. This process, known as redlining, had the long-term effect of assigning economic value to neighborhoods that not only drove their future development and wealth but may have also had a strong influence on environmental factors such as the health of urban tree canopies. With its history of racial and socio-economic segregation and widespread insect and pathogen impacts on urban trees, the metropolitan Detroit area is the ideal location to examine the impact of neighborhood wealth on urban tree cover. I used current and historical aerial photography within the iTree Canopy platform to determine the association between the area’s historical socio-economic structure, major forest insect and pathogens, and current tree canopy. Initial analyses suggest a strong correlation between tree canopy cover in 2017 and redlining groups that were established in the late 1930s, with higher canopy cover in neighborhoods with more favorable designations. A main driver of this difference was the ability of neighborhoods along the socio-economic spectrum to recover their urban tree canopy from Dutch elm disease and emerald ash borer. These mortality drivers were found across metropolitan Detroit, and in some cases were more severe in wealthy neighborhoods, but poorer neighborhoods were unable to re-establish an urban tree canopy after mortality occurred. These results suggest that in addition to reinforcing the unequal distribution of wealth across major cities, redlining may have had an important, long-term effect on the ecology of American metropolitan areas as well.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 4:15pm - 4:30pm CDT
Spire Parlor