Urban Greening

Urban greening has been defined as "public landscaping and urban forestry projects that create mutually beneficial relationships between city dwellers and their environments." One source says "Urban greening programs usually include creation and maintenance of green space, such as parks; planting and care of trees; and the creation of green infrastructure. Green spaces and plants in urban areas provide numerous environmental and community benefits." They help combat air and noise pollution, reduce paved hotspots, reduce flooding and create habitats for local wildlife. They offer options for increased neighborhood sociability and encourage more active lifestyles. The end results have been shown to calm traffic, boost morale and reduce violent crime.

The work of Capital Trees, a non-profit organization based in Richmond, Virginia revolves around creating environmentally responsible and pleasing places for others to engage with our natural environment as outdoor classrooms, meeting places and play spaces. The organization is an outgrowth of an urban greening project completed by the Boxwood, James River, Three Chopt and Tuckahoe garden clubs. Signature projects include 14th Street Corridor, Great Shiplock Park and The Low Line along the Virginia Capital Trail.

Richmond's Low Line

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In collaboration with the City of Richmond and CSX Corporation, Capital Trees began the Low Line project in 2015 to rehabilitate 5.5 acres along the James River and Kanawha Canal. The site runs beneath a raised, active railroad trestle owned by the CSX Corporation and was dubbed the “Low Line” in a nod to its inspiration, New York City’s “High Line.”

The Low Line Gardens are a series of perennial beds framed by native shrubs, following the rhythm and pattern of the CSX viaduct. An allee of trees, all native, runs the length of the gardens.  The Low Line Green, completed in Spring 2020, tackled a serious stormwater remediation challenge. Prior to Capital Trees’ intervention, 150 thousand gallons of polluted stormwater from I-95 and the Downtown Expressway emptied onto hard pack dirt annually, often flooding the trail, running directly into the canal, and on into the James River. The site was engineered to stem the flow of these pollutants. Beneath The Green, underground conduits guide runoff through a rain garden for biofiltration before it enters the watershed, and thousands of native plants filter pollutants.

Visit https://capitaltrees.org to learn more.

Peter Paul Development Center

Boxwood Garden Club, 2019 GCV Common Wealth Award recipient, has transformed Richmond's Peter Paul Development Center playground, located in the heart of Richmond's East End, creating an inviting tree-filled native plant garden.

Slide presentation at left by Nella Timmons, Boxwood Garden Club.

Urban Forestry

According to the USDS Forest Service "Over 130 million acres of America’s forests are located right in our cities and towns. Urban forests come in many different shapes and sizes. They include urban parks, street trees, landscaped boulevards, gardens, river and coastal promenades, greenways, river corridors, wetlands, nature preserves, shelter belts of trees, and working trees at former industrial sites. Urban forests, through planned connections of green spaces, form the green infrastructure on which communities depend. Green infrastructure works at multiple scales from the neighborhood to the metro area to the regional landscape." Read More

Dr. Eric Wiseman

Photo Credit Eric Wiseman

Dr. Eric Wiseman is an Associate Professor of Urban Forestry in Virginia Tech's Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation specializing in arboricultural practices, urban forest ecophysiology, and urban forest assessment and management. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in arboriculture and urban forestry and provides technical support on urban forestry for Virginia Cooperative Extension. Dr. Wiseman coordinates the Virginia Big Tree Program.

Related Publications and Photographs by Dr. Wiseman

Understanding Urban Forests and Their Role in Community Viability

Urban Forests Photos (Alexandria, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, and Blacksburg included)

Websites Recommended by Dr. Wiseman

Vibrant Cities Lab
"Vibrant cities cultivate thriving urban forests that boost public health, safety, sustainability and economic growth."

Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition
'The trees, vegetation, and green spaces that make up America’s urban forests are essential contributors to virtually every measure of public well-being."

Greening Main Street

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14:57 video

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