Urban Forestry at the Forest Service

What does the U.S. Forest Service have to do with city trees?

Ultimately, conservation is about empowering citizens to improve the communities where they live and work. The Alliance for Community Trees is the only national organization working to improve the urban forests where 80% of Americans live- our cities, towns, and villages. ACT’s national office assembles coalitions that drive broad environmental success for our more than 180 organizations in 41 states in the pursuit of Clean Air, Green Streets, and Healthy Neighborhoods.
Urban forestry is simply about trees in places where people live.
Urban forests are extremely important to the health of our people and the future of our cities. With leadership from the Forest Service, urban forests can be better managed and utilized to address the following concerns:

  • Public Health: Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity, reduces stress, and reduces asthma risks.
  • Climate: Trees cool ambient temperatures in cities, reducing emissions. Urban trees sequester 22.8 million tons of carbon per year – a service worth $3.8 billion annually.
  • Energy: Tree windbreaks reduce residential heating costs 10-15%, while shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential cooling costs 20-50%.
  • Water: Urban forests are efficient stormwater management systems that can help cities reduce infrastructure and water treatment costs.
  • Air: Trees produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, and reduce smog.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Increasing tree cover by 10% in New York City would meet over 1/3 of the city’s federal air quality compliance needs for ground level ozone.
  • Risk Management: Professional urban forest management contains threats in the “urban interface”- such as invasive species, exotic pests, and fire-that pose a risk to forestlands.
  • State and Private Forestry
    The USDA Forest Service’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations by achieving quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people. Part of that mission includes addressing the needs of people in urban areas, where there also are trees. By definition, a forest is just more than one tree. So your street trees, park trees, and trees around your home are all part of the urban forest.
    ACT’s role in the Forest Service
    ACT continues to advocate for the role that urban forestry projects can play in achieving ecosystem restoration and job creation goals called for in the stimulus. Investments in green infrastructure provide good, green jobs at all skill levels, improve the environment, and support neighborhood stabilization in communities nationwide. With regards to the Forest Service, ACT urges the following:
    1. Provide a total of $100 million to the Forest Service to deliver a successful and expanded Urban and Community Forestry Program to the nation’s public.
    2. Increase the Forest Service’s research investments for urban forest research across its Research and Development units.
    While it remains to be seen how strong the Forest Service’s commitment is to urban forestry projects, the agency receives many urban proposals, revealing the capacity, demand, and ready network available through the urban forestry program. It still remains a good idea to keep your state forester and regional forester informed about shovel ready projects in the event that urban forestry becomes a greater focus of their work.
    At this moment, the nation wants action to secure safe and healthy communities, action that goes beyond buzzwords such as green and sustainable. Healthy urban forests are key to helping our growing cities and towns to address public health and safety concerns.
    Find Out More:
    Greener Neighborhoods are Safer Communities
    Greener Healthier Neighborhoods
    Trees and Smart Growth
    The Alliance for Community Trees is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization (EIN # 68-0319301), and also participates in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC # 12402). To discuss planned giving opportunities, call us at 301-277-0040.