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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Stephen DeStefano

Second Advisor

David Bloniarz

Third Advisor

Craig Nicolson

Fourth Advisor

Michael Davidsohn

Subject Categories

Natural Resources Management and Policy


The management of urban forest systems is a complex interaction of social-ecological elements where biophysical factors interact with social aspects including policy decision-makers, managers, and municipal and private-sector employees. In the New England states, tree wardens are the local officials responsible for the preservation, maintenance, and stewardship of the public trees of a municipality. In-person qualitative research interviews were conducted with 50 tree wardens throughout Massachusetts to understand position duties, responsibilities, and professional challenges at the community-level. Qualitative research interviews were also conducted with chairs from 13 volunteer urban tree committees across Massachusetts. The value of employing qualitative methodologies in urban forestry, such as research interviews, as a mechanism to inform Extension professionals of stakeholder needs was also explored and further defined. Clearly emergent themes were identified from interview data and explored through analysis and comparison with existing literature. Tree wardens are typically housed in a municipal department, routinely interact with a number of local organizations, including urban tree committees, and are concerned about emergent plant health issues of importance including Asian longhorned beetle (Anaplophora glabripennis), emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), and hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) (HWA). Since eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is one of only four native coniferous trees of ornamental importance in the Northeast U.S., and coniferous trees are notoriously underplanted in the urban environment, the ecology and natural history of its native and invasive insect and disease pests were reviewed in detail. These included HWA, elongate hemlock scale (Fiorinia externa), and shoestring root rot (Armillariaspp.). The use of pest resistant plant material – a strategy known to arborists and urban foresters as employing host plant resistance (HPR) – with applicability of HWA-resistant hemlock trees as potential substitutes for eastern hemlock plantings was explored. It was determined that HWA-resistant Chinese hemlock (Tsuga chinensis) would make a suitable surrogate ornamental planting for eastern hemlock in the urban environment.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.