Zhaohua CHENG, Stephen SHEPPARD, Deepti Mathew IYPE, Doris SUN, Jennifer REID, Xueyao JIANG, Sophia YANG, Malinda KANKANAMGE, Liana GLASS, Amy KIM and Ayan KANHAI AMAN
Institution: The University of British Columbia – Canada
Keywords: Climate Change, Urban Forest, Experiential Learning, Citizen Engagement and Education
As climate change intensifies and city densifies, many cities are losing their urban forests, thus many benefits from urban forests are lost. In order to restore healthy urban forests, we not only need the public and private sectors, but also the ‘silent majority’ – regular citizens, students and youth to engage with & preserve our urban forests. Evidence shows that traditional media and science communication methods have not been successful in engaging a broader audience and scaling up action. Instead, we need an engaging, interactive process that uses place attachment, peer sharing, and experiential learning to motivate collective action.
The Citizen’s Coolkit on Climate Change and Urban Forestry (‘Coolkit’ for short) <http://calp.forestry.ubc.ca/ home/urban-forestry-toolkit/> is an example of a new tool that draws on these principles to create an engaging process for building urban forest literacy and climate resilience. Co-created by a group of researchers, university students, high school teachers and students, and local citizens in Vancouver, Canada, Coolkit is a ‘do-it-yourself’ toolkit with fun activities to increase people’s awareness and understanding of urban forests and climate change, and the potential for local improvements through individual/collective action. It focuses on the micro-neighbourhood scale that triggers personal connections (e.g. how do the trees in my street benefit my family); it encourages communication and comparison between neighbours for peer sharing and learning (e.g. which household has the highest tree canopy cover); It encourages place-based, hands-on activities for experiential learning through indoor/outdoor activities (e.g. how many trees do I have on my block). The Coolkit uses compelling visuals such as mapping with Google satellite imagery and visioning new ideas for a greener and more resilient future community.
The presentation will demonstrate some novel engagement tools in the Coolkit and summarize evaluation outcomes from testing with more than 200 participants in high schools and communities in Vancouver. Evaluation results show that the Coolkit significantly increases user’s awareness of local climate change and urban forest issues, benefits of trees, city policies and individual/collective action they can take to green their community/school.