FORT WORTH - Texas A&M Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator Paul Johnson has discovered that it is not enough for communities to sustainably manage and care for the urban forest. In order to make a lasting difference, individual people have to get engaged, educated and enthused about trees. And Johnson has made it his life’s work to spread the word.
Aptly coined the @treevangelist, Johnson’s moniker on Twitter is no accident. Johnson spends a large percentage of his time reaching out to others in both conventional and inventive ways — converting all who will listen into advocates of the treasured, renewable resource: trees.
All who will listen — Johnson’s audiences — are vast and varied. But he is especially interested in reaching the general public. Urban and community forestry — tree population management, and the field of arboriculture — single-tree management, are lesser known outside of the forestry and horticulture disciplines in which the fields developed. Johnson chooses to speak beyond the proverbial choir, and his messages are far-reaching.
"Trees are the largest, longest-lived, and most important part of our landscapes," said Johnson. “It is vital that more people understand the role of trees in our lives. Trees are key to healthy, happy communities.”
Johnson is arguably as much of a people-person as he is a tree-person. With a long and active history of making state and national public appearances, he has presented more than 500 programs covering 75 subjects including Team Lorax - Speaking for Trees and Why Invest in Community Trees. Johnson also has presented a tree talk at TEDx San Antonio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-1eBgNOjP0&sns;=em.
Taking advantage of communications technology, Johnson’s communications campaign also has strong social media components.
Johnson hosts Tree Chats on Twitter each week. Chats garner approximately 50 participants, translating to around 500 tweets, retweets, replies, links and pictures — resulting in approximately 1.5 million impressions and up to 145,000 users.
Although his Tree Chats seem prolific, it is from his former experience as a radio show host that Johnson may have found his niche in the weekly podcast Trees Are Key. The tree-themed podcast provides insights and advice through an easily accessible platform at www.treesarekey.com. Texas A&M Forest Service celebrates the success of the podcast this week as the series has reached more than 15,000 listeners from 23 countries.
It is for his positive impact on the urban forestry industry in and around his community, and for his innovative outreach efforts, that Johnson has been named a “True Professional of Arboriculture™” by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Johnson was recognized at the opening session of ISA’s 92nd Annual International Conference Monday, Aug. 15, in Fort Worth, Texas.
His home agency, Texas A&M Forest Service is quite proud.
"Paul is a passionate, innovative leader in urban forestry and his ‘tree-enthusiasm’ is contagious both here in Texas and across the country,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Director Tom Boggus. “His recognition by ISA is well-deserved as he strives to reach the masses about the many benefits our urban forests provide — and the number of his converts is growing!"
Johnson has been an urban forester with Texas A&M Forest Service since 2004, becoming the program’s coordinator in 2012. Under his leadership, urban and community forestry outreach has helped increase public awareness of the value of urban trees; set quality standards for tree planting and care; and provided guidance for communities toward sustainable tree care management.
For more information, see the International Society of Arboriculture’s original news release on Johnson’s award at www.isa-arbor.com.