It’s Not Easy Going Green: Obstacles to Tree- Planting Programs in East Baltimore

Our paper “It’s Not Easy Going Green: Obstacles to Tree- Planting Programs in East Baltimore” has just been published in the journal Cities and the Environment (CATE).

In 2006, government officials in Baltimore announced plans to double the city’s tree canopy over the next thirty years. While the effort has already produced positive results, many parts of the city still lack trees. In this paper we consider whether two neighborhoods in East Baltimore – Berea and Madison-Eastend – are suitable locations for tree planting. We begin by calculating how much plantable space exists in each neighborhood. We then use interview data to cast light on how residents value the urban forest and whether or not they would support efforts to increase tree canopy in East Baltimore. The selection of East Baltimore as a study area is significant because it was here that the city’s Division of Forestry encountered resistance to tree planting in the 1960s. A secondary goal of our research is to determine whether a shift in the ethnic profile of this section of the city over the past fifty years has changed the way residents perceive and value the urban forest. Our results show that while there is enough plantable space in these two neighborhoods to increase tree canopy, from approximately six percent to over 16 percent, residents are not yet ready to fully embrace an aggressive tree planting program.

While GIS analysis shows plenty room in Berea to increase tree canopy towards the city’s 40% cover goal, interviews with residents question the value of the effort

Michael Battaglia
Michigan Technological University Research Institue,

Geoffrey L. Buckley
Ohio University,

Michael Galvin

Morgan Grove
USDA Forest Service,

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research Program (DEB-1027188) as well as the assistance of the Parks and People Foundation and the City of Baltimore, Division of Forestry. We would also like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

Citation: Battaglia, Michael; Buckley, Geoffrey L.; Galvin, Michael; and Grove, Morgan (2014) “It’s Not Easy Going Green: Obstacles to Tree- Planting Programs in East Baltimore,” Cities and the Environment (CATE): Vol. 7: Iss. 2, Article 6.
Available at: