Revitalizing Baltimore
Imagine you had been given the job of designing a forestry program for an urban community. Where would you start? According to the models you would attempt to link forestry resources on the state, county and municipal level with community based conservation associations, corporate sponsors and academic institutions to improve urban life by equipping residents to revitalize their own neighborhoods.

The Parks & People Foundation initiated the Revitalizing Baltimore (RB) project as a regional partnership strengthening community-based efforts to improve urban natural resources to achieve quality of life as well as ecological goals. This project is supported by the USDA Forest Service and managed by the Parks & People Foundation in cooperation with the Maryland State Forester, as well as Baltimore City and County government agencies. RB is a national model for community forestry and watershed organizing that equips people to care for natural resources and to employ these resources to revitalize their neighborhoods. The partnering organizations are working together to improve the quality of life in urban neighborhoods by restoring natural resources in the Baltimore region using a human ecosystem frameworks based on watershed geography.

Over the last nine years, Revitalizing Baltimore (RB) has focused its efforts along stream valleys, parks and neighborhoods with significant tree deficits helping increase tree canopy in 45 neighborhoods by planting over 6,600 street trees and 12,950 riparian trees and woody plants in over 650 projects involving more than 3000 volunteers annually, and providing stewardship education to over 11,650 students and 800 adults. RB’s twenty partnering organizations include the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, several nonprofit organizations, three watershed associations, businesses, and academic institutions. RB actively reaches out to culturally diverse communities to help residents plant trees along streets and streams, transform vacant lots to community green space, restore parks and schoolyards, and support youth education and adult training to foster stewardship of natural resources. This year, the Revitalizing Baltimore project will continue community forestry and watershed organizing initiatives and projects.

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) began in 1997 and is a key partner in the RB project. BES is a research study funded by the National Science Foundation and supported by the USFS NE Research to investigate how Baltimore functions as an urban ecosystem, focusing on interactions between people – our actions, ideas and institutions – and urban ecology in the metropolitan area. BES addresses three central questions: 1) how Baltimore’s ecosystem is changing over time; 2) how the structure of the natural and built environment affect ecological processes; and 3) how Baltimore residents can develop and use an understanding of the city as an ecosystem to improve their daily lives. Through the RB Technical Committee, BES including USFS researchers make connections with community forestry practitioners, public officials, and community resident volunteers. The Technical Committee serves as a means for defining research priorities and for transfer of new research and technology to community members and natural resource managers.

For more information contact:
Guy Hager
Great Parks, Clean Streams, and Green Communities
Parks & People Foundation
800 Wyman Park Drive, Suite 010, Baltimore, MD 21211
Tel: 410-448-5663x101 Fax: 410-448-5895

BES may be reached @
Jennifer Sullivan
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Updated July 14, 2003

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