By Zoe Bommarito
The Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program helps support state forestry agencies in their work to provide critical technical assistance for establishing and managing urban forestry resources. State foresters use this program to deliver assistance to thousands of communities across the United States, benefiting over 190 million Americans that live in these communities. The program funds — which are matched with state and private resources — have contributed to a rise in community-based forestry jobs, local property values, and overall quality of life.
For the UCF program, 40 years of cooperative forestry is meaningful. Prior to the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act, urban forestry projects existed as local, individual efforts. The program created a national network of state foresters, city arborists, and community-based organizations working to enhance and protect urban forests throughout the United States.
What is an urban forest?
Urban forests are often misunderstood. Did you know that all the trees in your community (however many there are) collectively are considered urban forests? Many people don't know that urban forests include more than city parks like Central Park in New York City, but also tree-lined streets and backyard trees. In fact, some states' UCF programs provide homeowners with technical assistance to maintain those trees on private property. In addition to serving larger cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Houston, the UFC program helps small rural communities establish and care for community forests across the nation.
Why is the UCF program important?
Unfortunately, tens of millions of trees are decimated by insects and disease every year; and hundreds of thousands more are lost to storms. With help from the UCF program and state forestry agencies, communities can curb these threats and maintain valuable green infrastructure. From city tree inventories and monitoring invasive species to clearing downed branches — the UFC program keeps our communities green.
Decades of research confirms that actively managed urban and community trees improve human health — saving the nation millions in healthcare costs annually. From reducing rates of childhood asthma to lowering systolic blood pressure, trees provide many physical and mental health benefits. To find out more about how forests enhance human health outcomes, check out the Vibrant Cities Lab or check out the state foresters' #HealthyTreesHealthyLives campaign on Twitter and Facebook.