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Protecting Urban Forested Natural Areas: Strategies for Conservation in Cities

By Sam W. Lawson, Sophie Plitt

This report summarizes the main threats to one type of urban natural area–forests–and the strategies cities use to minimize or negate these threats. Overall, this report shows that cities use various tactics such as ordinances, zoning, land acquisitions, and federal protections to preserve natural areas. The most successful approaches feature overlapping strategies protecting both individual trees and land from being cleared or developed. Based on these findings, this report proposes a toolbox approach, where each city tailors various strategies to craft a comprehensive protection strategy that works for their city, keeping in mind that not all protection strategies protect forests in totality. Using the case studies and methods outlined in this report, cities can evaluate, strengthen, and add to their own toolboxes. This process begins with an assessment of the laws and policies currently in place protecting forested natural areas. We hope that this report is helpful for practitioners and decision makers, particularly those who influence local policy, to gather new ideas about how to protect forested natural areas in cities across the country.

In a nutshell, the resource offers:

  • A summary of the main threats to forested natural areas
  • Barriers to protecting forested natural areas
  • A toolbox of strategies that cities can implement to prevent forest loss
  • Local case studies of how forests are protected

How to use this resource:

  • As inspiration for policies that can be implemented to protect forested natural areas
  • As a resource for local policies that have been successfully implemented
  • As a blueprint for how cities can work to protect forested natural areas.
Read the Report

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