How to Establish an Urban Forestry Program in Your Neighborhood
As our urban areas continue to expand – they now cover 69 million acres nationwide and are increasing at a rate of 1.3 million acres per year – it becomes increasingly important that we strive to maintain and manage existing trees as well as initiate programs to plant and care for new trees.
Why? Public trees are a relatively low cost investment with high returns that have allowed many Ohio cities and towns to effectively improve their livability. Trees increase in value the minute they leave the nursery and continue to appreciate as they mature. They add to property resale/rental value by improving curb appeal not to mention the numerous other economic, environmental, and health benefits they provide. Safe, healthy trees also supply year round interest that helps to improve the quality of life of Ohio’s citizens.
There is no doubt we must ensure that future generations continue to receive the beauty and benefits offered by city trees – even during tough economic times.
That’s why Ohio Division of Forestry Regional Urban Foresters are available to help you maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your community’s tree care program. We are more than happy to meet with elected officials, city staff, volunteers, and citizens to enlist their support and begin organizing a comprehensive tree care program.
We’re also experts on Ohio trees – the different varieties and how to best plant and maintain them. We can help you audit the health and condition of public trees and develop recommendations for their care. Recently, we helped the city of North Canton select what trees to plant near their baseball diamonds.
Another way we can help is to share what other communities are doing to care for their urban forests. Instead of constantly reinventing the wheel, we are able to pool ideas from towns across the United States. In the past few years, we’ve been distributing information about the Asian Longhorn beetle (which has resulted in the removal of thousands of trees in New York and Chicago) and shared how these cities have handled this destructive pest.
Ways Ohio’s Urban Forestry Program Can Help Your Community:
Organizational Assistance Meet with elected officials, city staff, volunteers, and citizens to educate them and enlist their support for the creation or expansion of local tree programs
- Assist with Tree City USA designation (helps with public image and community pride.) Call the National Arbor Day Foundation at (402) 474-5655 or visit www.arborday.org for more information.
- Offer sample street tree and landscape legislation for local approval or modification
- Outline what’s needed to start your program (someone has to be in charge with responsibility – preferably a municipal employee)
- Develop an Action Plan (lays out clear objectives for tree management with timelines, jobs, and activities to ensure you accomplish goals)
- Catalog results and accomplishments
- Foster ideas for citizen involvement (tree maintenance is a popular environmental program)
- Assist with tree sele ction, planting, and maintenance
- Audit the health and condition of public trees and assess needs
- Help identify trees needing removed due to poor structure, disease, pest damage, or old age
Share Best Practices Information
Keep communities updated about breaking news through regional seminars, newsletters, workshops, and our website
If you already have an urban forestry program in place, what else can you do to help? Be part of an advisory committee that recommends policies and projects. Be the eyes and ears of your neighborhood and bring community feedback about blighted trees, insect problems, and trees that pose a safety risk to the attention of your local tree commission or urban forester. Support and volunteer for projects like tree planting, pruning, and litter clean up.
Urban Forestry is a cost-effective way to improve the social, economic, and environmental health of your community. If you’re interested in starting or improving a local urban forestry program, contact your local urban forester to find the regional urban forester near you.