As the UW Partnership matures, local communities are looking forward to establishing funding and partnership structures that will ensure long-term sustainability of the Urban Waters initiative into the future.
“To boil it all down, more trees are better for cities,” Ewen said. “This sounds simple, but there are a lot of questions cities need help answering – for example, where and what to plant, how to engage the public, how to plan and maintain urban forests for the long term, and how to balance benefits against costs or competing goals.”
Planting more trees, and protecting and caring for mature tree canopy, means better stormwater control, more rainwater interception and more cooling benefits for cities, Ewen said. Those things support resiliency for cities to stand up to climate change.
“Heat is going to be a real challenge — as cities get hotter and hotter, there is a higher risk of heat-related fatalities and human health concerns,” Ewen said. “The more we can cool down cities with natural means like integrating green infrastructure, the better and more resilient our communities will be.”
This year, the UW Partnership hit a milestone when 28 national nonprofit organizations signed in support of the Urban Waters vision, mission and principles. Each of those organizations made commitments or stated how their work aligned with the work going on in the UW Partnership. Some of those organizations include Smart Growth Network partners like American Planning Association, American Society of Landscape Architects, the Conservation Fund and the Trust for Public Land.
“I think it’s true for all of us, as federal agencies and as nonprofits, we don’t want to be the only one working on this. We want to be part of a strong team that’s working together. Having private sector support begin to align with our mission will be a key ingredient in how we sustain the success of the UW Partnership going forward into the future,” Ewen said.