Richard W. HarperUMass Environmental Conservation urban forestry professor Rick Harper

Extension Professor


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 increasing, retaining, and supporting the success of underrepresented students. 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+)

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.