The purpose of this strategic framework is to provide a clear focus for the Urban and Community Forestry Program as we move forward over the next five years.
Community trees and forests are the most visible natural resources people see on a daily basis. More than 80 percent of Americans live in cities, suburbs and towns, many of which have programs in place to care for public trees and address liability concerns. These trees and forests are deserving of federal, state, and local attention because of the overwhelming social, environmental, and economic benefits they provide.
All Americans benefit from the multitude of services provided by community tree and forest cover: improved human health and wellbeing, air and water quality, community-based green jobs, energy conservation, carbon sequestration, wildlife and fish habitat, recreation, and reduced risk from catastrophic events. These benefits are more critical than ever as communities become increasingly concerned for their future sustainability, and their global environmental footprint.
USDA Secretary Vilsack has presented a vision for the Forest Service to conserve and restore our nation’s forests, recognizing that a healthy and prosperous America relies on the health of our natural resources, particularly forests. Specifically, the Secretary has tasked the Forest Service to make our forests more resilient to climate change while protecting water resources, improving forest health, creating new jobs, and reconnecting Americans with their natural resources and the landscapes that sustain us. The 39 million acres of tree canopy cover that make up our urban and community forests are a vital component of this “All Lands” approach to management of our nation’s forests.
The nation’s Urban and Community Forestry Program (U&CF) provides assistance to states, communities, and nonprofit organizations so that they can plan, plant, protect, maintain, and utilize wood from community trees and forests, and maximize the benefits they provide to society. The U&CF Program reaches just over 75 percent of the U.S. population living in communities with the potential to use program resources. This partnership network and the unique public-private partnerships that have been established in communities are critical to accomplishing the Forest Service Strategic Plan goals. The U&CF Program contributes specifically to accomplishing the stated outcomes of the Strategic Plan for “broader access by Americans to the long-term environmental, social, economic, and other types of benefits that the Forest Service can help provide” and to “maintain the environmental, social, and economic benefits of forests and grasslands by reducing and mitigating their conversion to other uses.”
Further, the U&CF Program plays a crucial role in landscape scale conservation and planning. Activities fully support priority landscape initiatives and outcomes, and address all three of the State and Private Forestry Redesign themes: 1) Conserve Working Forest Landscapes, 2) Protect Forests from Harm, and 3) Enhance Benefits Associated with Trees and Forests.
Urban and Community Forestry
“Sustain the trees and forests where people live, work and play.”
“Connecting people to resources, ideas, and one another so they can care for forests and sustain their communities.”
USDA Forest Service
“To sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”
U. S. Department of Agriculture
“Enhance the quality of life for the American people by supporting production of agriculture:
- ensuring a safe, affordable, nutritious, and accessible food supply;
- caring for agricultural, forest, and range land;
- supporting sound development of rural communities;
- providing economic opportunities for farm and rural residents; and
expanding global markets for agricultural and forest products and services and working to reduce hunger in America and throughout the world.”
UCF Strategic Focus Areas
The following focus areas are provided for U&CF to achieve our mission over the next five years. Priorities, tasks, resource allocation, partnerships, program direction, performance measures and accountability at all levels of the Program will be guided by these focus areas.
Mitigate and adapt to climate change
Assist cities and communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change through increased use of trees to provide ecosystem services, participation in ecosystem services markets, establishment of strategic canopy goals and increased use of urban wood for energy production and value added products.
Protect and improve water and air quality
Protect and improve water and air quality by replacing impervious surfaces with tree canopy and establishing tree canopy goals that are supported by federal, state, and local requirements in air quality and storm water implementation plans.
Support and promote the strategic preservation and planting of trees to reduce energy consumption, enhance tree canopy cover, and to utilize trees as a renewable energy source.
Reduce the impacts of land use change, fragmentation and urbanization on forest landscapes
Plan, manage, and restore working urban and community forests to reduce the impacts of land use change, fragmentation, and urbanization on landscapes by providing expertise and facilitation of green infrastructure planning, and development of model ordinances, policies, and best management practices.
Improve community health and well being
Expand our knowledge and application of the social, economic, and environmental benefits of urban and community forests and their impacts on the health of people, community livability, sustainability and economic vitality.
Build urban forest resilience and mitigate the impacts of invasive pests and catastrophic events
Provide assistance to communities to mitigate the impacts of catastrophic events through the development and use of emergency response and hazard mitigation plans, forest risk management strategies and practices, and monitoring of invasive pests, diseases and plants.