Storms Over the Urban Forest: Planning, Responding, and Regreening

By Lisa L. Burban and John W. Anderson
Broomall, PA (January 1, 1994)- Following a severe 1990 tornado, a consortium of concerned federal, state and university agencies decided to prepare this disaster mitigation handbook on “Planning, Responding, and Regreening- A Community Guide to Natural Disaster Relief.” This handbook is for use by municipal leaders, public works directors, urban forest managers, and state urban forestry coordinators. It provides a reference of procedures in planning for and responding to natural disasters.


Preparing for these natural disasters, which strike urban forests in large cities and small communities, should involve the cooperative effort of a wide array of municipal agencies, private arboricultural companies, utilities, and volunteers. Principles and methods determining how to mitigate or minimize the impact of natural disasters are critical in determining the capability of communities to respond. Similarly, replanting the uprooted urban forest also requires a closely coordinated effort of key civic leaders, elected officials, community foresters, and managers of municipal agencies. This manual is intended to assist community leaders and governmental agencies to prepare for natural disasters, respond appropriately when these natural disasters occur, and recover from the subsequent loss of vegetation.
For urban foresters, mitigation involves efforts to prevent or minimize damage or loss of trees in areas affected by natural disasters. The three chronological emergency action phases for natural disasters involve preparation (planning and warning activities), response (immediate activity during and after natural disasters), and recovery (activities to regain or improve upon pre-disaster conditions).
A flexible action plan must be created as part of the preparation for natural disasters. This plan is a critical step. Many activities can be accomplished prior to a natural disaster. These can reduce the severity of its impact. Technical and practical training helps prepare professionals and lay persons for rapid and efficient mobilization. Communities must recognize that disaster damage often exceeds what can be handled by municipal workers. Thus, a list of private and public cooperators should be developed and kept up-to-date. One of the most important preparation activities is the proper planting and maintenance of the urban forest. If trees are planted improperly, or in the wrong site, and if trees are not given adequate care, they may sustain greater damage than trees that are properly planted and cared for.
The final two chapters of this mitigation document focus on technical resources and sources for additional information and assistance. Mitigation resources include technical references, volunteer resources, natural resources organizations (public and private), a literature review, a bibliography, a literature cited section, and a number of relevant documents.

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Storms Over the Urban Forest: Planning, Responding, and Regreening- A Community Guide to Natural Disaster Relief