TreeBaltimore is Baltimore’s program for the coordination of all tree plantings by city agencies, nonprofit organizations, neighborhoods, and community associations. It strives to increase the urban tree canopy through the establishment, management and preservation of trees. TreeBaltimore is an initiative led by the Baltimore City of Recreation and Parks in partnership with Blue Water Baltimore, the Parks & People Foundation, Baltimore Tree Trust and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
Social Marketing Research
In order to increase the city’s tree canopy and accomplish their goal of 40% tree canopy by 2037, TreeBaltimore conducted social marketing research focused on: (1) identifying the perceived barriers and benefits related to tree planting, and (2) establishing a baseline for attitudes and behaviors related to tree planting among our campaign target audience. Local residents took part in focus group discussions, community leaders were engaged one-on-one, and a random 500 person survey was conducted in order to develop a social marketing plan to increase tree canopy.
The survey revealed the perceived need for trees and self-efficacy were low. However, while tree care was not perceived as a neighborhood norm, over half of respondents are currently engaged in tree planting activities. Overall, these “doers” tended to be homeowners, live in detached homes, be caucasian/white, have a higher income and education level, perceive a need for more trees, and more strongly agree with the benefits of trees.
Not surprisingly, the negative comments were things that have been heard in the past, trees are messy, their roots damage pipes, hard to maintain, and hide criminals. On the other hand, the focus groups showed that city residents do believe that trees add to the quality of life and that “neighborhoods with trees are associated with family homes, that the people care about their community and take pride.”
Baltimore residents’ attitudes towards trees brought out in the focus groups and surveys led the development of their social marketing message. Based on the survey findings, the group (1) developed and implemented a campaign that promoted activities that make it easier for residents to plant a tree in their yard, (2) engaged residents in group plantings that tap into people’s existing interests and are fun and social in nature, and (3) continued to emphasize the benefits of trees, rather than attempt to combat the perceived disadvantages.
TreeBaltimore Website Redesign
In order to engage citizens and community groups to ‘take action’ – plant and maintain neighborhood, park, school and street trees, TreeBaltimore embarked on a web redesign in order to communicate information and opportunities more effectively to community members. The updated website includes information on how to plant a tree, events in the area, and information about their various programs that support on increasing tree canopy and maps of the tree canopy in Baltimore.
The research also showed that the current TreeBaltimore partnership strategy of hosting large scale, volunteer tree plantings on institutional properties is successful. The marketing plan recognized this success by building on the number, scale, and exposure of these events and use of strategic marketing messages to instill a planting ethos that will extend to home lots. These Tree Ups are themed social events organized all over Baltimore where people can have fun and give back to the city by planting a tree. Tree Ups are for people who want to celebrate, commemorate, or advocate – cheer on the Ravens, honor loved ones, celebrate local art, or otherwise express themselves by planting trees in service to the community.
For more information visit www.treebaltimore.org
Homepage Slider Photo courtesy Tree Baltimore, from their Tree Baltimore October 2013 Newsletter
Story written by Amy Handen (National Park Service) and Jasmine Napier (US Forest Service)