Justin Hellier

Justin Hellier's picture
Basic Info
Wild Gift Class Year: 
Better World Expertise: 
Community Engagement/Activism
Public & Institutional Policy
Conservation & Stewardship
Current Occupation: 
Program Manager at EarthCorps

Planting Trees & Building Community

     Up and down the Puget Sound and throughout the Pacific Northwest, urban communities are joining together to steward natural areas in their neighborhoods. The ecological benefits provided by these urban forests are immense; the threat to them posed by invasive species is urgent; and the need for ecological restoration has never been greater. Many forested urban parks face a serious decline in biodiversity and ecosystem function within our life times without intensive, community-based stewardship to sustain them.

     Public agencies are recognizing and aiding this effort with technical assistance and support, and a network of non-profit organizations has grown to provide research, training, and funding for urban ecological restoration. But the future of the urban forest still lies in the hands of neighbors who care for their greenspaces.

     In 2008, with the generous support of Wild Gift, I initiated Tall Trees Youth Stewardship Project, a one-year pilot project to engage young people, neighborhood associations, and city agencies in stewardship of the urban forest of Olympia, Washington. I worked to provide the inspiration and technical capacity necessary for community and student groups, City staff, and non-profit organizations to kindle effective and collaborative ecological restoration efforts in South Sound urban forests.