Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 44(2): March 2018 Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 2018. 44(2):87–100 87 A Volunteer and Partnership Baseline for Municipal Forestry Activity in the United States Richard J. Hauer, Nilesh Timilsina, Jess Vogt, Burnell C. Fischer, Zach Wirtz, and Ward Peterson Abstract. Communities cultivate citizen support of municipal forestry operations through volunteers and partnerships. Through a national census and survey of urban forestry activity in over 660 municipalities in the United States, researchers found two-thirds of all responding communities involve volunteers in tree activities. This increases from half of small communities (2,500 to 4,999 people) to all large communities (one million or more people) involving volunteers. When tabulated for the United States, a mean national estimate of 345,466 (195,754 SEM) people volunteered 1,484,204 (665,460 SEM) hours with municipal tree activities. This equates to 714 (320 SEM) full-time equivalent (2,080 hour-base year) positions. Overall, volunteers completed nearly 5% of municipal tree care activities. Nearly 80% of the municipalities train their volunteers. Tree planting (85% of communities) was the most common activity, followed by tree watering (40%), awareness/education programs (39%), tree pruning (28%), and fundraising (20%). Findings were contrasted with U.S. census population groups to disaggregate if volunteerism varied by community size. Volunteers were more com- monly involved in communities with a greater urban-forestry capacity derived from a sustainability index score. Six attributes of municipal forestry program had either positive (+) or negative (-) effect on volunteer participation in urban forestry activities. These included adequate budget (-), per capita spending (-), tree board (+), outreach (+), strategic plan (+), and total employment (+). Key Words. Civic Science; Municipal Forestry; Partnership; Volunteer. The urban forest results from many social and en- vironmental human activities (Miller et al. 2015). People, through their decisions, policies, plans, and actions are the primary agent influencing the trees that grow in built environments. Community tree populations result from trees existing prior to de- velopment, natural regeneration, and through trees planted by humans (Nowak et al. 2004; Miller et al. 2015). Collectively, the urban forest results from people who plant, maintain, and remove trees through varying levels of activity across public and private land (Miller et al. 2015; Vogt et al. 2015). In the context of public land, public employees, con- tracted companies, and volunteers are three primary ways that urban forestry activity happens (Johnson et al. 2016; Peterson and Hauer 2016). ‘Activity’ in this sense is defined as any effort to maintain ur- ban tree populations in a built environment. In the United States, Hauer and Peterson (2016) found that 54% of the time associated with tree activities occurs through public employees. Contractors accounted for 41% of time associated with urban forestry activ- ities. Volunteers represented 5% of the time with ac- tivities. The implications of volunteer activity within municipal forestry programs is a focus of this paper. Volunteerism in general has been relatively well studied, with Musick and Wilson (2008) and Wilson (2012) writing about such activities in their recent reviews. Individuals with certain personality traits (e.g., extraversion, agreeable- ness, resilience, and empathy when accompanied by a feeling of obligation) are more likely than others to volunteer (Wilson 2012). Other stud- ied predictors of volunteering include an interest in overcoming identity problems (by joining a like community of volunteers), a desire to ben- efit themselves through display of volunteer sta- tus to friends and acquaintances, and a previous religious experience (Wilson 2012). Additionally, studies have observed that women are more likely to volunteer than men, Caucasians volunteer at higher rates than other racial or ethnic groups, ©2018 International Society of Arboriculture
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