Urban and Community Forestry

Urban and community forestry

The urban forest is the tree canopy cover above every neighborhood, town, and city in the United States. Trees are a part of community green infrastructure and provide environmental, social and economic benefits to all urban dwellers.

Rigorous research demonstrates that urban trees can help solve many pressing national and community issues to benefit more than 220 million people—or 83 percent of the population—who live in urban areas in the United States. 

A healthy urban forest can improve the health of local residents. Trees improve air quality by absorbing gaseous pollutants through their leaves. A recent study in New York City found that an increase of just 343 urban trees per square kilometer was associated with 29 percent lower prevalence of early childhood asthma.  Tree-lined streets also encourage people to walk in their communities and walk farther. 

In the United States alone, urban trees store over 708 million tons of carbon, which is equivalent to annually mitigating carbon emissions from about 500 million automobiles. Urban trees help further reduce emissions by lowering electricity demand for summer air conditioning and winter heating. 

National NASF works with many national partners to conserve, protect and enhance America's urban canopy including:

Federal Urban and Community Forestry Program
Since its expansion under the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1990 (CFAA), the Forest Service’s Urban & Community Forestry (U&CF) program has provided technical and financial assistance to promote stewardship of urban forests in communities of all sizes across the country. The program is delivered in close partnership with State Foresters and leverages existing local efforts that have helped thousands of communities and towns manage, maintain, and improve their tree cover and green spaces.

Aliance for Community Trees
The Alliance for Community Trees is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1993 that is dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. The Alliance engages volunteers to take action to improve the environment where over 90 percent of people live: in cities, towns, and metropolitan areas.

Arbor Day Foundation 
NASF partners with the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) on the long-standing Tree City USA program, which helps America’s communities enhance the extent and health of their urban forests. The Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with NASF members, administers an array of complementary programs, such as Tree Line USA and Tree Campus USA, designed to further advance urban forestry programs nationwide.  NASF and its members support and work with ADF on many other programs including the annual Partners in Community Forestry Conference.

International Society of Arboriculture
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) works worldwide to promote the professional practice of arboriculture with an emphasis on education, using technology and conducting research.  

Society of Municipal Arborists
The Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) promotes the practice of professional municipal arboriculture and public awareness of the value and benefits of properly maintained trees.  It provides networking and educational opportunities to further science based professional management. 

Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition
NASF  participates in the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC), an alliance of foresters, arborists, city planners, non-profit leaders and others who work together to advance policies that develop the capacity for long-term management of urban forests, trees and green space. The SUFC advocates for programs that provide multiple benefits to the public, address issues at the landscape level and across jurisdictional boundaries (all lands approach); facilitate interagency coordination to protect urban forest health; advance science and research and promote urban trees and forests as green infrastructure; and support local initiatives to and maximize impacts for every dollar invested.

Utility Arborists Association
The Utility Arborist Association (UAA) is an organization of nearly 3,000 individuals with interest in and a commitment to the maintenance of trees and other vegetation. Our primary goal is to ensure the safe and reliable distribution of energy, including electric, oil, and gas, to businesses and residences.