Project Information


The goal of this project was to evaluate the GTGC tree planting program and its impacts on residents and the environment, as well as provide recommendations for future program improvements.


To achieve our project goal we completed three objectives:

  1. Identified various factors that stakeholders in Greening the Gateway Cities may use to assess success of the program. 

We interviewed Mat Cahill, the GTGC program coordinator and Hilary Dimino, the Chelsea city tree forester, with questions focused on whether or not the EEA goal was being met and other potential ways of measuring success. We identified measures each stakeholder used to define success.

  1. Assessed the extent to which programs in participating Pilot Gateway Cities have met the EEA’s standards of success.

We found the existing tree canopy using GIS mapping. We then created a methodology that took existing GIS data on land use, tree canopy location, and tax parcel data to create heat maps of tree canopy in Chelsea and Fall River. These maps provide percentages of land covered by tree canopy for each tax parcel in the areas targeted by the program.

  1. Determined how the Greening the Gateway Cities program has impacted urban residents.

We interviewed 44 residents from Chelsea and Fall River who had received trees to gather their opinions about the program. We developed three kinds of surveys to conduct with residents in these cities. The surveys targeted residents who participated in the GTGC program, residents who had heard about the program and did not participate and the lastly residents who had not heard about the program. We surveyed 21 residents total from both cities.


Measures of Success in the Pilot Cities

  •  Stakeholders in GTGC measure program success in a variety of ways, including percent increase in tree canopy, high rate of tree survival, and overall improvements to health, relationships, and communities.
  • Based on stakeholders’ measures for defining success and computer simulations, both Fall River and Chelsea have represented successful participants in the Gateway Cities tree planting program, but can further benefit from the addition of trees.

Contributors to Success of the Program

  • The ability of local partners to facilitate tree planting programs played a key role in program success.
  • Residents’ willingness to participate in the GTGC tree planting program was influenced by their connection with staff, planters, and foresters.
  • Seeing tree plantings around different sections of a city stimulated resident interest in the GTGC program.
  • The provision of additional resources for street tree maintenance has been crucial for tree survival.

Limitations that Hinder Program Progress/Success

  • Some renters lack authority to decide on program participation without getting approval from landlords, which potentially limits program success.
  • Inefficient communication between program and city officials can diminish residents’ confidence in program implementation.
  • A lack of public awareness of the specifics of the program hindered its implementation in Chelsea and Fall River.
  • Water restrictions due to drought can hinder program progress in Gateway Cities.


Based on our results, we recommended that the EEA and DCR should:

Outreach and Advertising

  • Raise awareness about the ongoing tree planting program by using local news media and newspapers, and having local partners spread information through word of mouth to supplement door fliers in each participating Gateway City.
  • Have students and youth groups involved in GTGC tree planting program, in order to facilitate increased awareness of the program to overcome the barrier created by lack of awareness.

Program Communication

  • Endeavor to build residents’ confidence in program implementation by ensuring that there is effective and regular communication between program staff and city officials.
  • Provide additional support to foresters and staff knocking on doors to gather tree planting orders, in order to better promote and implement the program.

Tree Planting and Maintenance

  • Carefully consider expanding tree plantings outside of the set quadrants within each Gateway City.
  • Have the program foresters emphasize to residents that there is an available help line that residents can call for questions about their trees.
  • For cities without a local support system, regularly check with city officials to see if trees are being properly maintained during the first year of the program and ensure that there is a maintenance calendar for doing so.

Development of Methodology for Future Evaluation

  • Consider using a survey as a tool to measure program success, in order to gauge residents’ response to the program.


  • An assessment framework consisting of measures for evaluation, an evaluation process, and a data analysis tool, all of which can help analyze the success of future cities.
  • A preliminary survey template can be used by the EEA and DCR to gather feedback about the impact of the program on the community.