Getting to know Dr. Vivek Shandas,
LA's 1st Urban Forest Equity Visiting Scholar
Examining how to address the inequitable distribution of LA’s urban forest...

Dr. Vivek Shandas is a renowned expert on the intersection of public health, equity and green infrastructure and will examine opportunities for tree canopy expansion in low-income, heat-impacted areas. 

To get to know Vivek a little better, we asked him a few questions...

What does it mean to be LA’s first urban tree equity scholar? 

Helping to lift-up and frame the important issues of urban tree equity is both humbling and a privilege. As the first urban tree equity scholar, my role has been to facilitate a conversation that has already been central to the robust urban forestry community in LA. Through my participation in this program, the LA region is sending a profoundly timely message to the rest of the country: our urban forests are part the human experience, and supporting commuting in co-creating them is essential for the sustainability of our cities.

Why does LA need urban tree equity research? 

After decades of disinvestment and urbanization without acknowledging the important role of urban forests in supporting human and ecological health of the region, urban tree equity offers a means for identifying long-standing limitations of public policies and development programs. The distribution of our urban forests is emblematic of a much deeper inequity that every part of the country faces. We face a need to acknowledge why we've neglected some communities when considering the public health benefits from urban forests. Our research offers a means for identifying blind spots in the 'business as usual' model that amplifies the inequities impacting historically disinvested communities.   
What is one thing you wish to achieve in the next few years?

One of my goals in the coming years is to take the lessons we've been learning in LA about urban forest equity to the rest of the country. LA is such complex and ever-evolving place with a long history of environmental racism, and if we are able to make improvements in the region, then so many other communities can benefit. 

What superpower would you choose to have and why? 

The super power I'm developing is the ability to understand plants. Our green kin hold the knowledge about the earth and what can help us to survive even the most challenging of situations. If I could speak to plants, I believe that I could teach others, and we could be able to face any uncertainty. 

The Five Favs! Tell us your Favorite Place, Favorite Season, Favorite Hobby, Favorite Food, Favorite Tree: 
Place: High in the canopy of a conifer.
Season: Spring -- the emergence of life and warming of temperatures
Hobby: Fermenting grains, seeds, and plants
Food: Wood fired pizza!
Tree: Joshua Tree -- living with little water in hot environments

How should we stay in touch with you?
The best way is to track the work of our stellar team at CAPA is on Instagram!

Wednesday | May 12
1pm-3:30pm (PST)

Join us virtually to see what is germinating at the LA Urban Center.

Our 2020-2021 Science Fellowship Cohort will be presenting their research preceded by our Urban Forest Equity Visiting Scholar, Dr. Vivek Shandas, from Portland State University.

LA Urban Center Calendar
Stay connected with everything happening at the LA Urban Center!
We keep our online calendar up-to-date with events and activities, including our monthly webinar series.
The 2021-2022 LA Urban Center Fellows
LA Urban Forest Equity Guidebook
LA Urban Forest Assessment Report
Over the past several months, City Plants and the LA Urban Center have been working with Dr. Vivek Shandas and "LA Urban Forest Equity Collective" to examine and address the inequitable distribution of LA’s urban forest.

Dr. Shandas published the final assessment report in February, and the Equity Streets Guidebook this week!

He will debut his findings at our Spring Partners Meeting on May 12th! You are invited to join, with the link to RSVP below.

In the meantime, you are able to download and explore the Urban Forest Equity Guidebook and Assessment Report and to learn more about the project, as well as the recommendations needed to achieve tree equity goals in LA's Green New Deal and beyond.

Funding for this project provided by Tree People and Accelerate Resilience LA.
We Get By with a Little Help from our Friends..
The LA Urban Center operates through a partnership among the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region and Research Station and the City of Los Angeles (City Plants and Recreation and Parks).

Joining in this collaboration are the many Federal, State, and local government partners as well as academia, industry, private, and non-profit organizations concerned with urban natural resources and socioecological resilience.