Creating Sustainability Indicators to Assess the Physical, Social, and Economic Values of Greening Cities - A Study of the Million Trees Initiatives in Los Angeles, CA

EPA Grant Number: R833364
Title: Creating Sustainability Indicators to Assess the Physical, Social, and Economic Values of Greening Cities - A Study of the Million Trees Initiatives in Los Angeles, CA
Investigators: Saphores, Jean-Daniel , Pataki, Diane , Pincetl, Stephanie , Saatchi, Sassan
Current Investigators: Saphores, Jean-Daniel , Gillespie, Thomas W , Pataki, Diane , Pincetl, Stephanie
Institution: University of California - Irvine , University of California - Los Angeles
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: March 1, 2007 through February 28, 2010 (Extended to February 28, 2012)
Project Amount: $299,985
RFA: Collaborative Science And Technology Network For Sustainability (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability

Description:

At a time of increasing concerns for urban sustainability, what are the physical, social, and economic values of urban forests in semi-arid climates where many of the world’s fastest growing cities are located? Although urban forests are increasingly popular to improve environmental quality, little is known about their impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, local air quality, and local temperatures in relation to the urban heat island effect. We also want to understand how complex systems involving urban ecosystems, social organizations and individuals learn and change when provided with scientific information on urban forests, and how this influences the implementation of sustainability at the regional level.

Objective:

The goal of this project is to build sustainability indicators for urban forests, quantify the value of urban forest, and shed light on the social dynamics of implementing sustainability in large urban areas.

Approach:

We will study the Million Trees Initiative in Los Angeles, CA, using an integrated systems approach that combines biology, Earth System Science, remote sensing, geography and economics. We will perform the following tasks: 1) Using remote sensing, map vegetation and its leaf area index (LAI) throughout Los Angeles over time; 2) Conduct in-situ measurements of urban tree function, and overlay meteorological data and concentrations of EPA criteria pollutants; 3) Integrate these data with housing and key urban characteristics in a GIS database; 4) Perform hedonic studies to quantify the impacts of urban forests on the housing market; 5) Define and calculate sustainability indicators for various neighborhoods, in cooperation with city agencies, NGOs, and the public; 6) Observe how these parties use this information and implement sustainability; 7) Document and disseminate our findings.

Expected Results:

This project will generate sustainability indicators to assess the physical, social, and economic values of urban forests. It will increase our physical knowledge of urban forests and evaluate their economic impacts on the housing market, allowing us to validate the popular iTree suite of models STRATUM and UFORE. Moreover, we will build a GIS tool that will be forward-looking and preventive in the practice of sustainability to monitor the impacts of urban forests in Los Angeles. Results from this project will also increase our understanding of how different parties learn and collaborate to implement aspects of urban sustainability. Our results will be disseminated through scientific papers, workshops, and the Internet.

This innovative regional project combines biology, Earth System Science, remote sensing, geography and economics to inform decision makers about the potential benefits of urban forests and how it can contributes to regional sustainability.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 23 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 16 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Air, atmosphere, urban forest, global climate, sustainability indicators, sustainable development, environmental policy, decision making, environmental planning, green infrastructure, systems modeling, monitoring, measurement methods, environmental education, ecological and economic modeling, GIS, conservation, ecosystem management, water supply,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, green design, ecological design, environmental sustainability, alternative infrastructure design, sustainable urban environment, economic input output, environmental education, million trees initiative

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • Final Report