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Urban Forest Vulnerability

Urban forests will experience local climate change impacts in the coming decades. 

Urban forests can be viewed as two separate but interconnected entities: natural areas and developed sites. These areas are managed and maintained in vastly different ways and by different stakeholder groups.

Climate change will not affect all communities in the landscape in the same way. Some communities may be more vulnerable than others if they lack biodiversity, are in areas susceptible to climate change impacts, or lack the resources to adapt. Vulnerability is the susceptibility of a system to the adverse effects of climate change. It is a function of potential climate change impacts and the adaptive capacity of the system. A system is vulnerable if it is at risk for no longer being recognizable as that community type, or if the system is anticipated to suffer substantial declines in health or productivity.

What Can Managers Do?

Confronting the challenge of climate change presents opportunities for land managers to plan ahead, foster resilient landscapes, and ensure that the benefits that forests provide are sustained into the future.


The region's forests will be affected by a changing climate during this century, but individual tree species will respond uniquely to climate change, depending on their particular silvics and ecological tolerances. These 4-page summary highlights key impacts from climate change for cities in the Midwest and Northeast. Find projected changes in USDA hardiness zones and AHS heat zones, along with a list of native and non-native trees commonly planted in the region that may be more or less vulnerable. 

  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Chicago
  • Columbia, Missouri
  • Detroit
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul
  • New York City 
  • Philadelphia


Find additional resources, trainings and tools at the NIACS Climate Change Response Framework Urban Project

See how growing degree days, heat, and hardiness zones may change