Tree Assessment/Inventory

So, why develop a community tree program? Well, several reasons include:
• Beautification;
• To improve the environment by cleaning the air and water;
• To provide shade and reduce the “urban heat island” effect;
• To bring neighbors and residents together to strengthen our communities;
• To halt the removal of public plants; and
• To improve our community images overall.

Once you have decided to plan an urban forest and have determined your goals, you should determine your needs. Start by gathering information on the status of tree resources and tree management. Usually, urban forestry needs can be grouped into three broad categories, with some needs overlapping and intertwining with other categories.

Community Needs – These needs are related to public perception and how the public will interact with the management program. These needs are met by:
• Increasing public awareness of the benefits and values associated with trees;
• Fostering community pride and support;
• Promoting better private tree care through educating the public on the biological needs of trees;
• Promoting conservation of the urban forest by encouraging public respect for trees of all ages, not just the large heritage trees.

Management Needs – This category focuses on the needs of those involved with the short- and long-term care and maintenance of urban forests. These needs are met by:
• Optimizing the use of limited financial and personnel resources;
• Coordinating tree-related activities of municipal departments;
• Developing adequate long-term planning to guarantee the sustainability of the urban forest;
• Increasing education and training for tree program employees to ensure high quality tree care.

Biological Needs – These are the needs of the tree resource itself and can be met by:
• Increasing proportion of large-stature trees for greater canopy effect;
• Providing sufficient tree planting to keep pace with urban growth and offset tree removal;
• Guaranteeing proper compatibility between trees and planting sites to reduce problems with overhead utilities and sidewalk damage which lead to premature tree removal.

With information on needs and resources collected, goals can be addressed and a management strategy formed. In establishing realistic goals, consider limitations posed by economic realities, the level of support from the community and environmental constraints. When there are limited resources available, prioritizing goals becomes a necessity.

Community support and involvement is vital to the realization of goals set for urban forests since most ordinances rely heavily upon voluntary public compliance, and compliance will only occur if the public supports the goals set forth. When involving the public in the goal-setting process, it allows them to reflect on the values of their community as well as educate them on the principles of forest management.

Since meeting goals is what will motivate those involved in the project, set goals which are quantifiable and enjoy and celebrate your progress along the way.

Use of Different Tree Species
Preserving Existing Trees
Guidelines (Medians, Parking Lots)
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