Storm Recovery - Trees

Importance of Urban and Community Forestry

Most Americans don't realize it, but they live in a forest.

In fact, these forests are among the most important forests in the country. They're made of trees along streets, urban river corridors and in parks and neighborhoods.

It is vital that the welfare of these community forests are entrusted to professional management that urban foresters provide, said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.

According to studies cited by the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation, only 39 percent of American municipalities have a program to systematically care for their publicly owned trees.

"Trees are an important part of the infrastructure and fabric of any community," Harris said. "Trees shade our streets to lower temperatures and our homes to reduce utility usage. They also slow the winter winds, clean the air, reduce noise and provide home for species of wildlife such as songbirds. Trees provide urban areas with green infrastructure that increases in value over time."

While every community's tree-management program is different, it is important for each city or town to have a plan in place to take care of its urban forest.

Urban foresters help select the proper species of trees for public property, inspect public trees, schedule maintenance, control insects and disease, remove dead or dangerous trees before they become a hazard and much more.

"Trees add so much beauty to a community, so it makes sense to have a well-managed forestry program," Harris said.

Each year, the Arbor Day Foundation honors communities that practice exceptional tree-care management through the Tree City USA program. In 2008, more than 3,400 communities throughout the United States received Tree City USA recognition.