A perplexing challenge has perennially vexed the urban forestry community: With all the benefits we know urban forests provide, what is the most important issue to talk about when we’re trying to draw broad audiences under the urban forest canopy? Four years of work by a national task force and the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) points to a surprising answer: All of them.
Fifth Estate Communications worked alongside SUFC from the release of Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests: A National Call to Action to the creation of the Trees Are the Key online toolkit. “Trees are the key,” was developed not as a catchy campaign slogan, but rather as a conversation starter to discuss mutual interests among diverse stakeholders. The toolkit provides common language for discussing urban forestry issues. Based on our research and interviews with urban forest advocates and others, we found that there is no “single message” that resonates across the board. Trees and urban forests are highly localized issues. Therefore, our communications tools center around a “platform” of the 12 Vibrant Cities recommendations – which encompass the work stakeholder organizations are already doing – and strategies for using those recommendations to build on that work.