Urban Forestry Part 2: Protecting Infrastructure and Water Quality

Discovering City Forest Credit’s Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area near Pittsburgh, PA

Regen Network
Regen Network


Preserving urban forests from development yields a multitude of benefits for the local environment and community. Urban forests contribute to the reduction of the urban heat island effect by providing shade and evapotranspiration, which leads to cooler microclimates and diminished energy demand for cooling systems. These forests also serve as important carbon sinks, sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, thereby improving air quality through the process of photosynthesis.

Although often overlooked, preserving urban forests also plays a crucial role in protecting aging urban infrastructure. By intercepting rainfall and reducing stormwater runoff, these forests alleviate the strain on stormwater management systems and decrease the risk of flooding. Moreover, their root systems enhance soil stability and prevent erosion, minimizing the potential damage to roads, sidewalks, and buildings during rain events.

These forests act as natural filters, intercepting and retaining pollutants, sediments, and excess nutrients before they reach water bodies. As a result, they aid in maintaining the integrity of urban drinking water sources, ensuring clean and potable water for residents.

By acknowledging the scientific evidence behind the advantages of preserving urban forests, we can make informed decisions to protect these valuable ecosystems, enhancing the well-being of urban environments and their inhabitants.

Urban forestry carbon projects have faced challenges due to their small and localized nature. Interestingly, it is these same characteristics that are now attracting attention from a new wave of discerning buyers in the carbon offset market.

Preserving Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area: Protecting Woodlands and Urban Water Quality

Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area permanently protects this hillside landscape within the Youghiogheny River Watershed located approximately ten miles upstream from the City of Pittsburgh. In addition to providing recreational and aesthetic benefits, it contributes as part of the solution to many pressing issues the region is grappling with today as a result of its industrial past, such as aging infrastructure, challenging topography and landslides, and climate change-induced rain events causing flood damage.

Nestled just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area stands as a testament to the power of land preservation and its impact on the environment and local communities. Developed by the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT), this project safeguards 124 acres of precious woodlands from encroaching residential development in southeastern Allegheny County. The conservation area not only provides a haven for diverse wildlife but also plays a crucial role in addressing pressing regional challenges such as aging infrastructure, landslides, and ensuring clean drinking water.

Learn more about Buenva Vista credits →

Protecting Urban Woodlands and Wildlife

The Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area is a natural oasis boasting a thriving maple, cherry, and oak-hickory forest that has flourished for over four decades. This diverse woodland serves as vital habitat for deer, turkey, and numerous bird species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts, hikers, birders, and mountain bikers alike. Visitors to the area can marvel at a majestic 200-year-old oak tree, which stands as a living testament to the longevity and resilience of this natural ecosystem. By preserving these woodlands, the project ensures biodiversity preservation while providing recreational and aesthetic benefits to the surrounding urban communities.

Beyond its environmental significance, the Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area offers solutions to several pressing challenges faced by the Pittsburgh region. With its hilly topography and proximity to the Youghiogheny River Watershed, this protected forest acts as a natural defense against landslides and mitigates flood damage caused by climate change-induced rain events. The conservation area also plays a vital role in preserving the semi-rural character of the community, contributing to the region’s identity and quality of life. Additionally, the protection of these woodlands directly contributes to maintaining clean drinking water for residents of the Pittsburgh area. Situated just five miles upstream from the Monongahela River, the Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area safeguards the health and integrity of the lower Youghiogheny River Watershed.

Allegheny Land Trust Local Conservation Efforts

The Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) is the driving force behind the preservation of the Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, ALT has been dedicated to preserving local land in the Pittsburgh region for years. With the protection of over 3,500 acres across 36 municipalities in Allegheny and Washington Counties, ALT has made significant contributions to improving water quality and conserving biodiversity hotspots.

“In urbanized areas in Allegheny County, we have significant flooding and flash flooding,” said Alyson Fearon, senior director of community conservation and resiliency for Allegheny Land Trust. “So stormwater management is important. We’re hoping that as we improve the health of the forest with some of the carbon revenue that we may be able to expand the habitat types and bring in more huntable species, and just provide habitat for more species in general.”

Beyond preservation efforts, ALT enriches the lives of current and future generations by offering recreational and educational opportunities. The revenue generated from the sale of carbon credits from the Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area is being invested in land acquisition costs, land stewardship, and expanding conservation efforts across various properties.

City Forest Credits leading urban forest preservation in the United States

City Forest Credits is the national standard for greenhouse gas emission reduction and removal for tree projects in cities and towns. Developed by leading scientists, industry, and urban forest professionals, and recently endorsed by ICROA, the City Forest Credits define the set of requirements that tree preservation, afforestation, and reforestation projects must follow in order to issue third-party verified carbon credits. The Buena Vista Heights project aligns with the City Forest Credit Standard, Version 2.0, ensuring rigorous verification and adherence to high-quality carbon offset standards.

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Regen Network
Regen Network

A blockchain network of ecological knowledge changing the economics of regenerative agriculture to reverse global warming.