The urban forest is a significant and highly visual infrastructure system which provides a multitude of benefits to residents of urban, suburban and rural communities. Properly planned and managed, urban & community forests enrich our quality of life and environment by improving air and water quality, increasing property values, promoting psychological and physical well-being, creating aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods, restoring wildlife habitat and building communities where people want to live.
THE URBAN FOREST AND ITS ENVIRONMENT
An urban forest is a living element of a community that contributes to the quality of life and surrounding environment. Community trees both common and public, found throughout the various neighborhoods and greenspaces, offset the impact of the built environment.
UNDERSTANDING THE URBAN FOREST
Communities develop an appreciation of the urban forest when there is a general understanding of its value and the benefits it provides through a program of continual public education and engagement.
ECONOMICS OF THE URBAN FOREST
The trees are a capital asset of the community that is highly valued and the only element of a community’s infrastructure that actually increases in value as it ages. This is because as trees get larger, they produce more benefits.
COORDINATED MANAGEMENT OF THE URBAN FOREST
Given the extensive and varied responsibilities of community operations, the urban forest may be impacted by the work activities of several departments on any given day. There must be a collaborative process in place where urban forest staff can communicate freely with staff at all levels of the organization regarding proposed work that could impact community trees.
STEWARDSHIP OF THE URBAN FOREST
The urban forest should include all community trees, and they should be conserved for future generations. Conservation efforts should include maintenance standards for their ongoing management with clear criteria to allow for the selective removal of trees. The urban forest should be maintained with a standard of care that is consistent with and in some cases with greater focus on project detail than other components of the community’s infrastructure would require.
ENHANCE THE URBAN FOREST
The urban forest is in a constant state of change. Developing a long range urban forest master plan considers the life cycle of the urban forest and recognizes that it is a dynamic, natural system. A community’s master plan should focus on the continual growth, diversification and expansion of its canopy coverage by replacing poor performing species with new species to create a healthy urban forest that will stand the test of time..