The City of Peoria, AZ approached Project Cities and the 2021 MSUS cohort for research on the feasibility, and challenges, of adopting a Community Forestry Program (CFP). The team was asked to evaluate Peoria’s potential for canopy growth and plan adoption by researching forestry or shade programs in cities with similar climates, as well as by conducting citizen outreach to determine the community mandate for a CFP. This process includes identifying the specific barriers and opportunities regarding implementation. Research is being conducted through peer reviewed articles and interviews with shade or forestry program officials; citizen outreach is being conducted through surveys and focus groups. These results will be compiled and presented to the City of Peoria to provide recommendations moving forward. Peoria will likely benefit from a comprehensive CFP, and this program will help reduce inequalities within the city, enhance urban form, promote walkability, and increase biodiversity within the urban area. This will also highlight that Peoria is dedicated to becoming a forerunner in the arena of urban planning, the intersection of social and environmental sustainability, and human health. Through their efforts in this sphere, Peoria can emerge as an example, and provide motivation, for other cities that are interested in pursuing a similar program. If implemented, the CFP will influence the development of Peoria for years to come.
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