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Urban & Community Forestry
Did you know you live in a forest?
Children with shovels planting a city tree
Take a look outside -- at the trees in your yard, along your city streets, or in parks and natural areas within your city or town. This array of trees and related vegetation, home to squirrels and sparrows but often interspersed with buildings and roads, composes an urban forest. An urban forest is a mosaic of the planted landscape and the native forest remnants left behind as our cities developed; it is the forest where we live.
 
Urban and Community Forestry refers to the management of the trees in our cities. The planting and care of trees is called arboriculture, and the planting and care of plants is referred to as horticulture. When the entire natural landscape of a city is managed as a system, the process is called urban and community forestry.
 
In the United States, eighty percent (80%) of the population lives within the incorporated boundaries of a city or town. This suggests that close to 80 percent of Americans live in an "urban forest." No matter what we call it, it is the forest where we live.


 
How important is this urban forest?
You might be surprised at the contributions the urban forest makes to the economic, social, and environmental health of your city. Research has proven that trees in our cities provide extensive environmental benefits including carbon dioxide exchange, decreases in energy use and air pollution, and water quality improvements.
 
Increased property values, attractive business districts that draw more shoppers, and higher occupancy rates in tree-shaded office parks reflect some of the economic benefits of urban trees.
 
And social scientists have demonstrated that interaction with plants in urban settings helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves medical recovery and convalescence, contributes to greater job satisfaction and productivity...and generally enhances the quality of community life.


 
Who is responsible for managing your urban forest?
People who work in the field of Urban and Community Forestry include arborists, urban foresters, landscape architects, landscapers, planners, nursery owners and many others. Depending on its size and its commitment to livability, your city may have a program led by a city forester or city arborist who directs the management of the trees along the city streets and in the parks. Your town may also be fortunate to have a volunteer non-profit group that helps plant new trees in the community. You may also have citizens serving on an urban forestry commission or tree board, interacting with city staff and city officials to decide how best to manage your urban forest. If you live in a small town, there may not be city staff dedicated solely to tree issues, so volunteers may play an even more important role.


 
How can caring for the urban forest improve your quality of life?
Well, it starts with the trees in your yard. Are they healthy? Are there enough of them? Are they the right species, and are they planted in the right places? What about the trees in your neighborhood?
 
Fortunately, there are many websites that can provide you with an abundance of information to help you learn about trees, tree care and the urban forest. This web site will link you with a variety of such sites...but you are likely to find many more as you go along. Some of these pages are in .pdf (Portable Document File) format, and require Adobe® Acrobat® Reader, a free software program available for download from Adobe® Systems.


Thanks for visiting this page...the more you know about trees, tree care, and urban forestry, the more you can help make a difference in your community, your state, nation, and world.
 
The Oregon Department of Forestry´s urban forestry staff has tried to anticipate your every question and assembled a list of FAQ´s (Frequently Asked Questions) about trees and urban forestry.