Town Community Forestry Programs: Why Have One? Who Can Help?
By Andrew Hillman, President, NYS Urban Forestry Council; Regional Business Developer, Davey Resource Group, a Division of The Davey Tree Expert Company.
Maintaining a town’s green infrastructure is every bit as important as taking care of the grey infrastructure. The most obvious green infrastructure in a town is the community forest; the public trees. Sure, trees can be beautiful, but they are more important for the benefits they provide, known as ecosystem services. Trees improve air and water quality, reduce flooding, reduce energy needs for heating and cooling, increase property values and improve the quality of life for residents of our towns in many ways.
All of the trees within a town, village or city make up the community forest. The community forest can include street, road and yard trees, parks, town properties, cemeteries, school grounds and undeveloped green spaces. Urban and community forestry is the management of community forests to establish and maintain healthy trees for air and water quality benefits, energy savings and environmental health. The urban and community forest also contains wildlife, built roads and structures, waterways and people. This is where most people in New York State ive and work.
We cannot manage a town’s resource unless we identify that resource. For the community forest, this is accomplished by conducting a tree inventory. Perhaps the most important outcome of a professional tree inventory is enhanced public safety. A tree risk assessment can be performed for every tree in the inventory and a risk rating assigned. With this information, a town can prioritize maintenance activities and develop a reasonable, prudent and defensible tree risk reduction plan.