Preparedness, response, and recovery: disaster management planning for the urban forest of Manhattan, Kansas


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Climate change is impacting weather patterns and increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters (Trenberth 2018). A natural disaster includes any type of severe weather that poses a significant threat to human health and safety, property, critical infrastructure, and homeland security. Natural disasters that are most impactful to trees, include severe storms with flooding, ice, and/or strong winds, including hurricanes, tornados, and derechos. As means to prepare for natural disasters, many cities create disaster management plans. A disaster management plan refers to “the entire process of planning and intervention to reduce disasters as well as the response and recovery measures” (Blanchard 2008) and typically consists of four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. However, a focus on trees is often missing within disaster management plans. Yet, as natural disasters are predicted to increase, the need for disaster management plans to include specific provisions for trees is necessary. Without strategies for tree resiliency, recovery, and replacement, urban areas may experience catastrophic losses of urban tree canopy for decades after a natural disaster. To demonstrate how small/rural cities in the Great Plains region can develop disaster management plans that include a focus on trees, this project centers on Manhattan, Kansas and makes key recommendations on how the city can modify its preparedness, response, and recovery phases. To inform the recommendations, interviews with subject matter experts and a case study of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which was impacted by a derecho in 2020, was developed. Key recommendations for Manhattan include the necessity of conducting a tree inventory, developing an urban forestry master plan, planting for resilience, and creating a specific recovery plan for trees.



Disaster management planning, Street tree recovery, Street trees, Tree recovery planning

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Master of Architecture


Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional and Community Planning

Major Professor

Jessica Canfield