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 conducted 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—and walk farther!—in their communities. 

- 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. 

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

USDA Forest Service - 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.

Alliance for Community Trees
A unique program of the Arbor Day Foundation, Alliance for Community Trees, is a premier network of community-based organizations dedicated to improving the livability of their towns and cities through planting and caring for trees.

American Forests
NASF partner organization American Forests advocates for the protection and expansion of America’s forests. Since 1990, the organization has planted more than 45 million trees. The work of American Forests is guided by science: choosing the right mix of trees for particular locations, the best trees to act as windbreaks or to filter water, the trees that will provide wildlife habitat, or are most suitable for city streets and parks.

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 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 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. 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; promote urban trees and forests as green infrastructure; and support local initiatives to maximize impacts for every dollar invested. Click here to read the SUFC's 2018 Farm Bill Recommendations.

Vibrant Cities Lab
Vibrant cities cultivate thriving urban forests that boost public health, safety, sustainability, and economic growth. To this end, the Vibrant Cities Lab hosts a searchable, curated library of research papers, guides, ordinances, and other resources deemed most helpful in making the case for urban forestry in your community.