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Does Treebate incentivize a more equitable, climate-ready urban watershed?

Portland City Code assigns all tree planting and maintenance responsibility to the property owner. As such, critical watershed and human health benefits offered by tree canopy largely rely on the knowledge, resources, and stewardship ethics of Portland residents and property owners. These diverse stewards cannot be taken for granted. The latest Canopy Monitoring Report released by Portland Parks Urban Forestry reveals an end to a long-term growth trend in canopy cover, and warns of a future reversal. Climate change will necessitate a shift in planting palette and threatens the loss of mature trees already at the edge of their climate tolerance. Further, inequity in canopy distribution and its associated benefits is not just an issue of urban watershed health, but of environmental justice. It is imperative that the City of Portland, and similar jurisdictions, structure incentive programs to both protect the future of and enhance access to the ecosystem services of urban tree canopy and a healthy watershed.


The primary purpose of this project is to determine whether the Treebate program incentivizes stewardship actions that 1) contribute to a more climate resilient urban forest (climate change), and 2) promote equitable access to ecosystem services (health equity). This project will result in recommended updates to the Administrative Rule. A secondary purpose of this project is to seed a broader conversation with regional practitioners and nursery operators around urban tree planting incentives, technical knowledge necessary to choose trees for future climate, and retail availability of climate-ready stock (Deep Dive).


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Applied Research Fellow: Lea Wilson, MS (Ph.D. Candidate)

Lea Wilson is an arborist serving with a municipal tree planting program in Portland, Oregon. She is also a PhD student at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus in the School of the Environment. Her current research focuses on urban tree establishment practices and shifts in species selection in response to climate change.