Moskell Speaks on Urban Forestry

On Friday, November 10, University Studies lecturer Dr. Christine Moskell evaluated urban forestry and community engagement through research conducted in Ithaca and Washington, D.C. 

Moskell defined urban forestry as the installation of green infrastructure in cities such as New York. She also discussed environmental stewardship or civic ecology, which includes the conservation, management, monitoring, restoration and education about urban forestry to encourage community involvement. 

First-year Savannah Rudek is in Moskell’s Environmental Activism, Science and the Arts class and attended the lecture. 

“We talk a lot about the psychology of how to get people to change their behaviors towards environmentalism, and her study about how to get people to water the trees cities plant helped me to see the psychology come to life,” Rudek said.

In addition to defining the importance of civic engagement in urban forestry, Moskell outlined the research she conducted at Cornell University that focused on maintenance of trees between the sidewalk and street, and her work with the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Green Scheme.  

“I think both studies help us get a better understanding of how we can create settings that physically and socially support people taking care of trees in their neighborhood,” Moskell said. 

Moskell’s research is novel in her use of the public health model to approach issues of environment and stewardship. To understand people’s actions in relation to urban forestry, she examined an individual’s spheres of influence, including neighbors and education. To examine the effect of exposure, Moskell distributed educational postcards to homes in Ithaca to study the result on their treatment of street trees. 

Another of Moskell’s students, first-year Liam Peng, reflected on her talk. 

“I learned a lot about the impact of education and community participation in the success of environmental projects, specifically urban forestry. I thought her research was really interesting, especially the [study about postcards],” Peng said. 

Moskell also conducted qualitative research based on stories from civilians who have contributed to their community. She mostly focused on the nonprofit Green Scheme, which works to engage low income communities in urban forestry. Moskell shared the narrative of leader Xavier “X” Brown who worked on Lincoln Heights’ urban forestry. Brown enforced the importance of community immersion in engaging civilians to take action. 

“We can do as much as we want, but we need people [within] the community [to help us]. It takes a lot of ground work. If you don’t have connections already in the community, it’s going to be hard to get people out there,” Brown said. 

Contact Emily Rahhal at [email protected].