Urban forests consist of the tree cover present above every community, town and city, urban trees are vital to the health and vibrancy of the environment as well as the population. There are many organizations, agencies and groups concerned with preservation of urban canopy cover and tree health, strong incentives exist for continuing, improving and expanding these efforts, due to the beneficial effects on the economy, public health, energy use reduction and water quality.
National organizations such as the Vibrant Cities and Urban Forests Task Force and the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) are the forces behind initiatives to promote and improve urban forests and green infrastructure throughout our country’s cities, towns and municipalities. State foresters, urban planners, researchers, national and local nonprofits and other municipal and state officials all participate on the task force which develops and implements recommendations and actions for improvements now and into the future. NASF is also a member of the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) which is another collaboration effort by foresters, arborists, city planners and nonprofit leaders. This coalition’s mission is to advance policies and contribute to legislation which will provide for long term, sustainable management of urban forests, trees and green space. In the past the SUFC has focused on passing a Farm Bill that promotes inter-agency coordination to address issues at the landscape level, improve and preserve healthy urban forests and advance green infrastructure.
Federal agencies also have a stake in maintaining urban forests and canopy cover across the country. In 1990 the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program was expanded per the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act (CFAA); this provides technical and financial assistance for programs and communities nationwide seeking to promote stewardship of urban forests. In close association with state foresters, this program has assisted thousands of communities manage, maintain and improve canopy cover and green spaces.
Chances are you have driven through a few towns and noticed signs announcing that town is an official “Tree City, USA”. This program is the product of a long standing collaboration of the NASF and the Arbor Day Foundation in an effort to enhance and expand urban forests. This collaboration also supports similar programs such as; “Tree Line, USA” and “Tree Campus, USA” whose missions are to broaden forestry programs nationwide.