Cultivating our urban forest future: a value-chain perspective

Facets Journal, December 16, 2021
The article can be viewed here.

Abstract: Darby McGrath, Ryan Plummer and Amy Bowen. For cities to grow their urban forest canopy the formula appears rather straightforward: the right trees, plus the right conditions, plus the right care equals success. These simplified “tree chain of custody” steps, however, represent activities within a complex value-chain in Canada. Given that there is heightened demand for urban tree planting as natural climate solutions become the norm, how can we prepare the value-chain to meet these demands? To answer this question, we outline the pathways by which trees presently go from nurseries into urban and peri-urban areas. Delineating the actors, roles, and present barriers to success exposes the complexity of the process and relationships in the value-chain, as there are distinct phases with multiple actor groups involved who influence, and are influenced, by one another. We explore the issues that pose prominent challenges to, as well as opportunities for, the value-chain. Emergent themes include communication, forecasting demand and timing, underpricing and undervaluing tree establishment, lack of awareness on the importance of soils, juvenile tree health, species selection, and gaps in evidence-based decision support tools. The touchstones of science and innovation, collaboration, and knowledge mobilization are pertinent for the value-chain in Canada to draw upon to navigate the future.

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