A Partnership of UConn and Eversource

Eversource Energy Center

 

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Trees & People

Trees beautify the New England landscape, provide wildlife habitat, and enhance a colorful, seasonal environment with the diversity of rural and urban sceneries.

Together, town leaders, Eversource and UConn are partnering to develop programs for maintaining healthy trees in proximity to power lines. These programs will benefit local communities and residents who rely on reliable power for their homes, businesses, town activities and community events.

This partnership opens dialogue opportunities and enhances understanding of preferences for tree and forest management in urban, suburban and rural communities across Connecticut.

Social scientists at UConn specializing in natural resource management are partners in this process. With research based on important community input, the aesthetic qualities of the region’s roadside trees and forests are managed with public safety and electric power reliability in mind.

These activities are in collaboration with the Center’s Roadside Tree and Forest Management program. With 90 percent of power outages during storms caused by trees, Eversource and UConn are working together with Connecticut communities to develop near-and long-term solutions to minimize tree and power line damage. The purpose of this research is to provide guidance to forest management activities that are intended to improve the stability of forests near utility infrastructure.

did-you-know-trees

  • ‘Human dimensions of natural resources’ is a social science focused on understanding why people make the decisions they do about natural resources, such as trees, water, and wildlife. It also explores the characteristics that influence those decisions, such as psychological variables, social, cultural, and environmental influences, motivations for and satisfaction with experiences, and sociodemographics.
  • Risk perception is a personal intuitive judgement as opposed to a technical or scientific assessment about risk.  People tend to take a cautious approach toward risks that are likely to involve gain, but gamble toward risks that are likely to involve loss.
  • In the context of this research, values are defined as guiding ethical and moral principles that people use when making decisions.
  • Although values are influenced by an individual’s natural, social, and cultural environment, recent research suggests that certain values are embraced cross-culturally around the globe.
  • Examples include tradition (respect and commitment to customs and ideas), self-direction (independent thought and action), and benevolence (interest in the welfare of people). Reference: Strutch, N., S.H. Schwartz, and W.A. van der Kloot. 2002. Meanings of basic values for women and men: a cross-cultural analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28:16-28.

Goals & Project Updates

The primary goals of this project are to:

  • Understand barriers to and opportunities for statewide implementation of the Stormwise program.
  • Explore the needs of homeowners, private landowners, municipal and other public officials, professional organizations, tree and forest managers, and other stakeholders in regard to conditions within which individuals are willing to adopt Stormwise tree management strategies.
  • Understand public perceptions on the best use of wood resources from Stormwise tree management efforts in local communities.

Risk to personal safety is the important part of decision-making by tree crews when removing vegetation around power lines.

Selling wood from trees removed from near power lines results in revenue that towns can use for tree replanting programs.

A tree crew works to manage vegetation along overhead power lines.

A tree crew works to manage vegetation along overhead power lines.


Team Members

Anita Morzillo, Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut.

Jason Parent, Assistant Research Professor, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut.

Tom Worthley, Associate Extension Professor, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut.

Christine Kirchhoff, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut.

John Volin, Professor and Head, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut.

Danielle Kloster, Graduate Assistant, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut.

 

Contact Information

For more information, please contact Anita Morzillo (anita.morzillo@uconn.edu).

Members of the media, please contact Center Manager Dave Wanik (dave.wanik@uconn.edu) directly.

 

Eversource Energy Center  | Address: 261 Glenbrook Road, Unit 3276, Storrs, CT 06269-3276 | E-Mail: eversourceenergycenter@uconn.edu