Tree plantings are often proposed as a solution to a variety of urban problems. The purpose of this project is to investigate the historical formation of urban tree cover in Gallup, New Mexico, and the extent to which urban tree plantings can benefit areas with uneven urban tree distribution. To do this, I employ a mixed methods approach that includes correlation analysis, historical analysis, and analysis of urban tree canopy change from 1972-2005. The findings from this study indicate that Gallup’s history of tree plantings is heavily influenced by its history of economic development. Additionally, the findings demonstrate that if the economic dimensions of urban trees are not identified and addressed, equitable distribution of urban tree cover cannot be achieved. This project serves not solely as a criticism of tree planting programs, but also as a review of the assumptions made during urban forestry prioritization and decision-making processes.
The Changing Urban Forest in Gallup, New Mexico: Contextualizing Urban Tree Programs and Planning Processes