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Land Use Planning Strategies--
Urban Forestry

Urban Forestry is the planting and maintenance of trees within a city or community. It is an important strategy for reducing both carbon emissions and energy expenditures for urban heating and cooling. An article in the August/September 1991 issue of Urban Forests magazine reported that "as much as 15 times the amount of carbon can be prevented from entering the atmosphere through the energy-conservation effects of an urban tree as can be retained through carbon storage alone." Furthermore, the studies cited in Urban Forests indicate that energy savings from trees planted near homes and buildings range from 10 to 50 percent for cooling and from 4 to 22 percent for heating. 

American Forests is the nation's oldest citizen based conservation organization and a leader in the urban forestry movement. American Forests sponsors several programs including Urban Ecological Analysis, Global ReLeaf, and Cool Communities. The organization also convenes National Urban Forest Conferences and maintains the National Urban Forest Council, a national network of individual active in the development of urban forests. CityGreen 5.0 software is available for download from the American Forests website. This GIS application calculates dollar benefits based on natural systems, including the economic value of tree growth.

The Heat Island Project of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is an interdisciplinary team of researchers working together to find, analyze and implement solutions to the summer warming trends occurring in urban areas, the so-called "heat island" effect. Part of the project examines, in cooperation with American Forests Cool Communities program, the role of vegetation in cooling cities.  

National Arbor Day Foundation helps promote tree care and conservation and educates people on tree issues. Sponsors the following programs: Celebrate Arbor Day, Trees for America, Rain Forest Rescue, Conservation Trees, Arbor Day Farm, Conferences for Knowledge and Growth, Tree City USA. 

Friends of Trees is a nonprofit organization in Oregon whose mission is to promote the planting, care, and protection of urban trees. Another nonprofit group that helps plant and care for urban trees is Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco. Other community groups that help promote urban forests for their quality-of-life benefits are the Georgia Urban Forest Council and the Virginia Urban Forest Council.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Urban National Forest Home Page provides a directory, articles and research, maps and fact sheets, and other information on the 14 National Forests within 50 miles of an urban area. Also, the USDA Forest Service Southern Region maintains an Urban Forestry South website, which offers information, speakers and publications on urban trees and forests in Southern states, while the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station maintains a Center for Urban Forest Research. The USDA Forest Service's Northeastern Research Station maintains Effects of Urban Forests and their Management on Human Health and Environmental Quality.

TreeLink is a site created to provide information, research, and networking for people working in urban and community forestry.

New Jersey's Cool Cities Initiative is a tree planting campaign designed to address the urban heat island effect. The $5 million joint program of the Board of Public Utilities and the Department of Environmental Protection is planting 100,000 trees across the state.

Backyard Wildlife Habitat is a project of the National Wildlife Federation that encourages the creation and maintenance of functional wildlife habitat in backyards, schoolyards, at workplaces and in communities.

Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute, based at California Polytechnic State University, addresses the need for improved management of urban forests in California. The website contains numerous online publications.

The Forest Where We Live is a companion website to "The Forest Where We Live," the television series. The site includes a timeline of urban forestry, benefits of trees, and classroom activity suggestions.

TreeVitalize seeks to develop a public private partnership, through a collaborative process, to address the loss of tree cover in the five-county Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Launched by the governor on Arbor Day 2004, the $8 million partnership plans to plant more than 20,000 shade trees and 2,000 acres of forested riparian buffers.

Tree Foundation of Kern County, California, offers a website with information on tree pruning, tree planting, the economics of tree care, and careers working with urban trees.

Several cities have developed urban forest programs that train citizen volunteers to help care for trees and educate the public about the value of urban forests. One example is the Citizen Forester Program in Washington, D.C.

The Society of Municipal Arborists produces the magazine City Trees, as well as conferences and a website that create networking and educational opportunities for urban tree professionals and students.

On-line Articles 

Parks as Lungs: America’s Urban Forests Make Environmental and Economic Sense, an article from E magazine, November/December 2001.


Cooling Our Communities: A Guidebook on Tree Planting and Light Colored Surfacing, US Environmental Protection Agency, 1992. 
A guidebook for urban forestry as an energy saving strategy. Available from: Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15220-7954; Reference GPO, Document # 055-000-00371-8.

Urban Forestry: A Manual for the State Forestry Agencies in the Southern Region is an educational tool that provides basic information for State forestry agency employees and others who work with communities on urban forestry. It can be used for self-guided learning, finding specific information on a topic and developing workshops and presentations. There are 16 units in the Manual ; 9 units appear online.

The University of Minnesota's Forestry Library offers a searchable online index of publications relating to the history of urban forestry; urban forest legislation; the benefits of urban forests, selection and planting of trees; maintenance of the urban forest; planning and management; and urban forestry programs.

Last updated: December 10, 2004

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