Richard W. HarperUMass Environmental Conservation urban forestry professor Rick Harper

Professor of Urban & Community Forestry and Extension Specialist


Office: 320 Agricultural Engineering

Phone: +1 (413) 545-3747

Curriculum vitae

As a first-generation college graduate, I understand the challenges associated with socio-economic barriers. Here at UMass, I and the members of the Urban Forest Ecology Lab (UFEL), are committed to each other’s success and to increasing, retaining, and supporting others – including underrepresented students among the UMass student body. We are also wholeheartedly dedicated to doing our part to create a campus environment that applauds shared values like kindness and understanding, while celebrating difference and diversity among individuals. We are excited to be part of a community that strives to foster dignity and respect for all.

Primary Interests

As Extension faculty, my position involves initiating & expanding a broad-based integrated research & extension program in support of the management of municipal forests & urban landscapes. I administer the award-winning ‘Urban Forestry Today‘ monthly webcasts, designed to meet real-time educational needs of practitioners & I closely align outreach-programming efforts with cooperating associations & agencies. In addition to publishing in the scientific literature, I and the members of UFEL also contribute to professional journals (Arborist News, TCI) & newsletters (ISA New England Chapter Newsletter; MA DCR Citizen Forester) read widely by practitioners & tree enthusiasts alike.

Current Integrated Research-Extension Projects

Current Associations

Courses Taught

  • NRC 310 Community Forestry
  • NRC 382 Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

Refereed Journal Publications (Selected, from 30+)

Hargrave, J.R., R.W. Harper, B.J. Butler and J.T. Mullins. 2024. Influence of Community Characteristics on Urban Forest Management Programs in New York State. Cities and the Environment (CATE) Vol. 17: Iss. 1, Article 3.

Lass, D.A. and R.W. Harper. 2023. Understanding the economic contributions of the arboriculture & commercial urban forestry sector in New England. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 41(2):48–58.

Healy, M., N. Geron, R.W. Harper, J. Rogan, D.G. Martin and L.A. Roman. 2023. Urban forest management motivations and practices in relation to a large-scale tree planting initiative. Society & Natural Resources 1-24.

Coleman, A.F., R.W. Harper, T.S. Eisenman, S.H. Warner, and M.A. Wilkinson. 2022. The multidimensional nature of urban street trees: A review of scholarly research. Forests 13 (11): 1779.

Elton, A.J., R.W. Harper, L.F. Bullard, E. Griffith and B.S. Weil. 2022. Volunteer engagement in urban forestry in the United States: A review of the literature. Arboricultural Journal 44(1): 1-23.

Bocsi, T., R.W. Harper, P.S. Warren, and S. DeStefano. 2021. Exploring the ecology of establishing oak trees in urban settings of the Northeast. Cities and the Environment (CATE) 14(1): 1-20.

Eisenman, T.S., T. Flanders, R.W. Harper, R.J. Hauer and K. Lieberknecht. 2021. Traits of a bloom: A nationwide survey of U.S. urban tree planting initiatives (TPIs). Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 61: 1-15.

Harper, R.W., E.S. Huff, D.V. Bloniarz, S. DeStefano, C.R. Nicolson and M. Davidsohn. 2020. Employing qualitative research interviews to understand urban forestry stakeholder continuing education needs. Arboricultural Journal 42: 1-11.

Harper, R.W., E.S. Huff, D.V. Bloniarz, S. DeStefano and C.R. Nicolson. 2018. Exploring the characteristics of successful volunteer-led urban forest tree committees in Massachusetts. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 34: 311-317.

Harper, R.W., D.V. Bloniarz, S. DeStefano, C.R. Nicolson. 2017. Urban forest management in New England: Towards a contemporary understanding of tree wardens in Massachusetts communities. Arboricultural Journal 41(3): 1-19.

Scharenbroch, B.C., D. Carter, M. Bialecki, R. Fahey, L. Scheberl, M. Catania, L.A. Roman, N.L. Bassuk, R.W. Harper, L. Werner, A. Siewert, S. Miller, L. Hutyra and S. Raciti. 2017. A rapid urban site index for assessing the quality of street tree planting sites. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 27: 279-286.

Yin, J., R.W. Harper and N.L. Bassuk. 2017. Effects of Tree Production Method and Transplanting on Root Hydraulic Conductance. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 35(2): 79-83.

Allen, K.S., R.W. Harper, A. Bayer and N.J. Brazee. 2017. Nursery production systems and their impact on urban tree survival. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 21(1): 183-191.

Green, B.L., R.W. Harper and D.A. Lass. 2015. Differing nursery production systems impact cost of planting oak species in the urban environment. HortTechnology 25(5): 651-656.

Clapp, J.C., H. D.P.Ryan III, R.W. Harper and D.V. Bloniarz. 2014. Rationale for the increased use of conifers as functional green infrastructure. Arboricultural Journal 36(3): 161-178.

Outreach Publications (Selected, from 100+)

Silveira, E. and R.W. Harper. 2022. Understanding autumn leaf color change in trees. Arborist News 31(5): 32-35. (October)

Harper, R.W., K. Bezanson, and D.V. Bloniarz. 2021. Student-led urban tree inventories in Massachusetts: Strengthening our understanding, one tree at a time. Arborist News 30(4): 34-37. (August)

C. W. Morrin and R.W. Harper. 2020. Trees & the law: Reviewing the basics. Arborist News 29(6): 30-33. (December)

Harper, R.W., N.J. Brazee, C.A. Copeland and T.M. McElhinney. 2020. Researchers & students collaborate to restore Ulmus americana in the Northeast. Arborist News 29(1): 28-30. (February)

Harper, R.W., E.S. Huff, D.V. Bloniarz, S. DeStefano and C.R Nicolson. 2019. Exploring volunteer urban tree committees in Massachusetts. Arborist News 28(4): 28-32. (August)(October – Part II)

Harper, R.W., D.V. Bloniarz, S. DeStefano and C.R Nicolson. 2019. Tree wardens and urban forestry in Massachusetts. Arborist News 28(3): 30-35. (June)

Harper, R.W., K.S. Allen and A.L. Bayer. 2018. Nursery production systems and their impact on urban tree growth and development. Arborist News 27(4): 12-19. (August)(October – Part II)

Harper, R.W. and D.V. Bloniarz. 2018. Regreening Springfield, MA – and communities nationwide – one tree at a time. Arborist News 27(1): 22-25. (February)

McElhinney, A.M., R.W. Harper and D.A. Lass 2017. Understanding the true costs of planting and growing urban trees. Arborist News 26(6): 22-28. (December)

Harper, R.W. and D.V. Bloniarz. 2017. Income, equity and the urban forest: Strengthening student understanding in Springfield, MA. Arborist News 26(3): 26-28. (June)

Clapp, J.C. and R.W. Harper. 2015. The value and function of evergreen conifers as urban green infrastructure. Arborist News 24(2): 42-45. (April)

Harper R.W. and J.L. Gangloff-Kaufmann. 2014. Arborists and stinging insects in the urban landscape. Arborist News 23(4): 44-47. (August)(October – Part II)

Bradley, B.A. and R.W. Harper. 2014. Can community forests keep pace with a changing climate? Arborist News 23(3): 44-47. (June)

Harper, R.W.  2013. Urban forestry on the frontier. City Trees: The Journal of the Society of Municipal Arborists 49(5):10-14.

Book Reviews

Harper, R.W. 2023. Review of The American Chestnut: An Environmental History by D.E. Davis. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 87: 128043.

Harper, R.W. 2022. Review of The Age of Wood: Our Most Useful Material and the Construction of Civilization, by R. Ennos. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 68: 127469.

Harper, R.W. 2021. Review of The Tree Book: Superior Selections for Landscapes, Streetscapes, and Gardens, by M.A. Dirr & K.S. Warren. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 62: 127162.

Harper, R.W. 2020. Review of Witness Tree, by L.V. Mapes. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 55: 126787.

Harper, R.W. 2019. Review of A history of urban forests, by J. Jonnes. Journal of Forestry 117(3): 313-314.

Harper, R.W. 2018. Review of Hemlock: A forest giant on the edge, by D. R. Foster. Journal of Forestry 116(1): 88-89.

Harper, R.W. 2017. Review of The illustrated encyclopedia of trees (2nd ed), by D. Moore and J.W. White. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 42(3): 83-85.

Harper, R.W. 2016. Review of Features from the past for the future, Branching Out: An integrated pest management newsletter for trees and shrubs, by D.D. O’Brien and G.W. Hudler. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 42(3): 213-214.

Harper, R.W. 2015. Review of The abc’s field guide to young and small tree pruning by A.G. Pleninger and C.J. Luley. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 41(1): 49-50.

Harper, R.W. 2014. Review of Wasp and bee management: a common-sense approach, by J.L. Gangloff-Kaufmann. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 40(1): 46-47.