Cumberland, MD: Social Marketing and Outreach for Trees on Yards

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Introduction

The Get Rooted in Cumberland Program is a program geared toward increasing urban tree canopy within the City.  It utilizes a social marketing approach to determine the perceived tree planting benefits and barriers for residential communities in Cumberland, as well as how to increase tree planting behavior.

Program Design and Implementation

In 2012, the City of Cumberland conducted research using surveys and focus groups to determine why residents were not planting trees. Their research showed that the largest barriers to planting tress was the financial ability to afford a tree and physical ability to plant the tree.

The City took this information and developed a program that strived to eliminate the obstacles that people had to tree planting. With the help from local nurseries, a coupon program was designed to allow residents to purchase a native tree and have it planted by the nursery for a significantly reduced cost. They also developed a logo for the program that would appear on the coupons as well as garden flags that were given to each participating homeowner.  This was an attempt to create a recognizable, consistent image that will give a visual indication of which households participated in the program and hopefully spur more participation from their neighbors.

 

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The City of Cumberland and Shade Tree Commission advertising the Get Rooted program at Heritage Days 2012. Photo Credit: Shade Tree Commission of Cumberland, MD Facebook Page)

 

To publicize the program, coupons were dispersed through block parties, community leaders, and word of mouth.   Instead of focusing on traditional methods for advertising like newspapers, radios, etc., these neighborhood leaders were identified to help spread the word.  Unfortunately, there was not much interest in the coupon program.

The City decided to utilize another model for increasing tree plantings and looked at offering the trees for free.  Several residents noted that they would have participated but could not afford the $30 for the coupon trees, therefore a volunteer-based tree planting model was developed that would enable residents to save on the cost of installation.  Homeowners could register to receive a tree either online or by telephone. The project was advertised on the radio, newspaper, facebook, and on banners in the neighborhood.   This method proved to be very successful.

Click here to listen to an audio promoting the Get Rooted Program!

Conclusions

A total of 85 trees were planted through this program.  The majority of trees were planted by volunteers but some were planted by homeowners.  The model for community tree planting was considered to have been very successful. Providing a free tree as well as giving the homeowner the option of having it planted by volunteers eliminates both major barriers to our residents planting more trees, which are cost and physical ability.  Through the program development and implementation, the City concluded that (1) people like free trees that someone else plants for them and (2) without dedicated staff time and funding, this tree planting program is unsustainable.

 

Related Resources:

Tree Baltimore Get A Tree For My Yard

Tree Planting as Social Behavior Change: Can It Be Done in a Small City?

 

Homepage Slider Photo courtesy of City of Cumberland

Story written by Amy Handen (National Park Service)

 

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