Optimizing ecosystem service provisioning through tree planting strategies that account for community health and demographics

April 14, 2022 - 11:30am

Dr. Mayra Rodríguez González, University of Vermont

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Mayra Rodríguez is an Urban Social Ecologist with close to eight years of experience in socio-ecological research and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Her work focuses on the interconnections between human-nature systems, especially in the urban context, and applies various approaches to help inform canopy expansion efforts from an equitable development and environmental justice perspective. Dr. Rodríguez has led city-wide and interregional research programs within and outside of the United States, and currently is a Gund Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Vermont working with the Spatial Analysis Laboratory.

Increasing relevance of ecosystem services in decision-making requires interdisciplinary efforts that are grounded in community needs. The City of Cincinnati has over 300,000 residents and would like to implement tree planting to promote resilience. To ensure resilience goals are pursued in an equitable and socially just manner, the City of Cincinnati engaged in an interdisciplinary partnership where planners, foresters, GIS specialists and environmental justice scholars determined neighborhoods to prioritize for tree planting based on need for flood prevention, heat mitigation, and air purification. The assessment accounted for access, susceptibility, and equity patterns, and integrated tree canopy, demographic, health, and risk data to assess community need.