Urban and Community Forestry Funding in the United States

By Martha Ozonoff and Ruth Williams
Davis, CA (June 15, 2009)- Based on survey data from all fifty states, this project identifies and explores potential stable funding sources for urban and community forestry in California based on similarities where funding was sustainable. This report reflects the state of funding perceived by Urban and Community Forestry Coordinators from 2007 through 2008.

There is a concern that federal funding is fickle and unreliable. The majority (76%) of those surveyed were pursuing alternatives to federal funding such as increased or diversified state funding and private and nonprofit partnerships.
The question of sustainable funding is inherently a subjective one. Coordinators in different states have different perceptions about how much funding is sufficient depending on their view of the role of U&CF in the state, the past programs and services implemented, and demonstrated community need.
This survey also found a difference in the perception of the State Urban Forester’s role in securing additional funds. In some states, urban foresters play a more proactive role in advocating for funding by testifying at legislative hearings, securing private donations and developing programs by leveraging community resources. In other states, there is a perception that pursuit of new or alternative funding sources for the department is not allowed.
One common theme was an emphasis on increased partnerships. Partners included nonprofits, public and private utilities, corporations and other government agencies. Potential partners mentioned included the State Parks Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and utilities. This appears to be an indication of a trend towards a holistic view of U&CF programs and the recognition that community trees can be part of the solution to broad community issues such as non-point-source pollution, poor air quality and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Funding sources explored include a trust fund to accept private donations, sales and property taxes, carbon sequestration credits, income tax donations and utility partnerships.
Related Resources:
Urban and Community Forestry Funding in the United States