Lecture: Theodore S. Eisenman
Municipalities worldwide are showing substantial interest in urban greening, defined here as the introduction or conservation of outdoor vegetation in cities. This contemporary movement may be the greatest effort to vegetate cities since the 19th century, when large public parks and street trees became ubiquitous elements of the urban fabric. Trees have historically been planted in the public realm of U.S. cities based on aesthetics, civic improvement, and national identity. But biotechnological logistics such as ecosystem services and green (living) infrastructure are now a prominent paradigm animating urban tree planting and urban greening writ large. This has potentially transformative implications for how flora is incorporated in cities. However, commonly cited environmental benefits of urban vegetation are poorly supported by empirical evidence, and there are noteworthy gaps in how disciplines approach this issue. It is also unclear if municipalities have the institutional capacity to adequately manage living infrastructure. This is exemplified by ambitious urban canopy cover goals and tree planting programs, including initiatives to establish a million trees. The distribution of urban silva across a range of spatial configurations, land uses, and land owners may require new forms of governance that are not the norm in management of urban landscapes and traditional grey infrastructure. In response to these concerns, Theodore S. Eisenman will share the status and results of ongoing research and offer thoughts on challenges and opportunities for urban greening in the early 21st century.
Theodore S. Eisenman (MLA, Cornell University; MPS in Natural Resource Management, Cornell University; PhD in City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.