Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Natural Resources

Major Professor

Sharon R. Jean-Philippe

Committee Members

Neelam C. Poudyal, Jennifer K. Richards, Paul D. Ries


Preserving existing trees in urban areas and properly cultivating urban forest conservation and management opportunities is valuable to the ever-growing urban environment and necessary for creating optimal experiences and educational tools to meet the needs of increasing urban populations. This dissertation contains studies investigating several facets of the urban forest, including environmental effects of deforestation and urbanization, tree equity, and urban forest facility management and accessibility. Community education and outreach at arboreta about the importance of the tree canopy can help promote environmental stewardship. A digital questionnaire was electronically distributed to representatives of arboreta certified through the Tennessee Division of Forestry (TDF) and the nonprofit organization Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) to explore the current needs and interests of arboreta management. Results showed that arboretum representatives mostly feel the arboretum certification program has been beneficial to their arboretum, need fundraising support, are willing to participate in educational offerings, and are interested in becoming part of a tree pest and disease reporting network.

TDF and TUFC have a vision of having a TUFC certified arboretum within a 30-minute drive of every Tennessee community; spatial analysis showed that more than one third of Tennessee communities currently lack TUFC arboretum accessibility. Urban Heat Island Effects (UHIE) include increased temperatures and decreased evapotranspiration in cities during hot seasons, which can disproportionately impact humans in low socioeconomic status. Spatial analysis showed UHIE evidence in Tennessee, most notably in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, the Tri-Cities areas, and Chattanooga. A model was created to predict evapotranspiration using land cover and socioeconomic variables. This culmination of research projects provides program recommendations, extends existing geospatial information systems models, and identifies urban heat islands and communities vulnerable to their impact.

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