Dayton ‘Twigs to Trees’

The ‘Twigs to Trees” project aims to reforest land in parks, vacant lots and right-of-way lots in Dayton, Ohio with native trees. Throughout the project, the Gardiner Lab will be monitoring the trees and investigating factors which best support tree survival.

Urban forests provide essential services to cities such as cooling air temperatures through shading, absorbing harmful pollutants, beautifying areas with colorful greenery, and mitigating stormwater runoff. Many cities across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States contain acres of parks and vacant lands which often remain unoccupied and underutilized by city residents for years. These cities, known as legacy cities, provide unique opportunities for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation within these numerous patches of vacant land. Currently, vacant lands in legacy cities are regularly mown, leading vegetation such as grasses and small shrubs to dominate. Our research aims to plant a variety of tree species in several parks and vacant lands in Dayton, OH to evaluate their potential for climate resilience and conservation of biodiversity. By planting trees in legacy cities such as Dayton, we hope to improve the ecosystem services offered by greenspaces to city residents, expand the urban forest, and reduce the effects of urban climate issues such as urban heat islands while also creating habitats for ecologically important flora and fauna.

This project is led by Erika Wright. She studies urban forestry and entomology and personally loves trees and greenspaces in cities because of their calming effects and opportunities to observe insects and wildlife.

Urban trees:

  • Remove pollutants from our air
  • Lower heating and cooling costs by providing shade in summer and blocking wind in winter
  • Reduce flooding by slowing and filtering storm water
  • Absorb carbon to cool air and fight climate change
  • Attract birds, butterflies, and other beneficial wildlife

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