Green Cities research

To advance the stewardship of our urban forests and parks our Green Cities work must remain at the forefront of the knowledge, tools, and techniques necessary for the stewarding of our lands and communities. Forterra’s Green Cities Program partners with researchers, land managers, and municipalities to conduct environmental stewardship research throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Much of this work is being carried out by  the Green Cities Research Alliance (GCRA), an informal group that includes Forterra, the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, the University of Washington, King County Parks and Recreation, and many others. Start-up funding for GCRA was provided by the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Projects to date have focused on urban forest structure and conditions, ecosystem services, and human interactions across King County.

Download the Green Cities 2013 Research Alliance Accomplishment Report!

Read highlights from the Green Cities research below:

The Forest Landscape Assessment Tool (FLAT)

The Forest Landscape Assessment Tool  uses rapid ecological inventory and assessment tools to provide information to help improve forest management. FLAT was built on the framework of the Tree-iage tool, initially developed in 2005 by Green Seattle Partnership staff. Similar to medical triage, the approach allows land managers to rapidly assess landscape conditions, then prioritize restoration activities.  FLAT expanded on Tree-iage by adding ecological attributes  to further refine forest health and assess non-forested habitats. The FLAT tool was piloted during the 2010-2012 field season by King County Parks and Natural Resources and was an important first step in developing a long term, system-wide forest stewardship program.  The USDA Forest Service General Technical Report is currently under review. Click here to download a copy of the FLAT Field Guide.

Forest Ecosystem Values Research

Field data collection in 2010 – 2012 measured vegetation and other attributes to summarize the forest structure and associated ecosystem benefits and economic values using the i-Tree Eco tool. Three projects were completed in Seattle, King County Parks, and the Green Duwamish River Corridor. Results to date have been presented at numerous academic and applied conferences and are informing Seattle and King County land management. In August 2012, the Green Cities Research Alliance produced an in-depth report about on the Seattle project. Click here to download a copy of the report.

Stewardship Engagement and Capacity Research

Over 400 volunteer stewards were engaged for in-field interviews about their experience in Seattle, King County Parks and along the Green-Duwamish. Investigation of stewardship programs’ needs and challenges was also conducted.  Results to date have been presented widely and have begun to be implemented by volunteer program managers in the region.  Click here to download a copy of the Seattle Report.

Determining the True Cost of Urban Forest Restoration

Data from Seattle, Tacoma, and partners is being compiled to develop a tool that can be used by planners and practitioners to predict the cost associated with urban forest restoration given a variety of specific conditions including crew type, volunteer management, forest health and size, activity, and plant stock.  Project details.

Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on Urban Forests in the Puget Sound Region

Results from research by scientists and staff at the University of Washington, Forterra, and the City of Seattle suggest clear impacts from climate change on three native tree species. The climatic conditions that make up the current seed transfer zones for western red cedar, western hemlock, and Douglas fir are likely to diminish, shift further northwest, or disappear by the end of the century. These findings have implications for how we choose current and future planting materials for our restoration sites. Click here to download this report.

Other research we’ve participated in

  • Forest Landscape Assessment of King County Forested Parklands
  • Cost Replacement Strategy for Environmental Restoration Materials and Contractors
  • Developing and Testing Urban Forest Restoration Monitoring Protocols
  • Effect of Stock Type on the Survivorship of Two Conifer Species
  • Effects of Mulch, Drip Irrigation, and Irrigation Gel on Seedling Survivorship
  • Conceptual Content Cognitive Mapping of Environmental Stewardship
  • Adaptive Management in the Green Seattle Partnership
  • Citizen Activation Theory
  • Geospatial Relationships of Urban Forest Conditions: Stewardship Activity and Environmental Equity


Exciting related research