Urban & Community Forestry

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The Urban & Community Forestry (U&CF) Program's goal is to improve urban environments through planting and management of trees.  It promotes the establishment of urban forestry programs in cities and towns, assists them in developing self-sustaining urban and community forestry programs, and provides technical assistance.  

In addition to technical assistance, the urban forestry staff administers grants that help communities initiate or expand their local urban and forestry programs, and grants that help communities and non-profits plant trees on public land. 

Why Urban Forests Matter

Urban and community forests play a vital role in our cities and communities. From improving air quality and reducing the urban heat island effect to boosting property values, fostering community, and enhancing mental and physical health, trees improve our quality of life and promote a sustainable future.

Urban forests of Tennessee are experiencing new demands and pressures as interest grows in greenways, heat islands, and storm water control.  Encroachment by development, invasions of by insects like emerald ash borer, diseases such as thousand cankers disease of walnut and invasive plants like honeysuckle and privet, and problems with soil compaction threaten the health and vitality of urban forests.

Developing Local Urban & Community Forestry Programs

The purpose of evaluating the status of urban and community forestry programs in cities and towns is twofold.  One, it is a requirement for determining the amount of grant money Tennessee receives from the USDA Forest Service.  Two, it provides an assessment of where Tennessee communities stand with their program development.

One of the goals of the Urban and Community Forestry Program is to establish and build local urban and community forestry programs to a managing level.  A community at the managing level is deemed to have in place all four of the following elements:

  • A local advocacy/advisory organization, such as, active tree boards, commissions, or non-profit organizations that are formalized or chartered to advise and/or advocate for the planting, protection, and maintenance of urban and community trees and forests.
  • Employed or retained through written agreement the services of professional forestry staff.
  • A local/county ordinance or policies that focus on planting, protecting, and maintaining their urban and community trees and forests.
  • An active urban & community tree and forest management plans developed from professionally-based resource assessments/inventories.

Managing Programs have all four elements in place.  Developing Programs have between one & three of the four elements in place.  Initiating Tree Programs have none of the elements in place.