Public trees: Budgeting & Funding 101

How to quantify the contribution a community’s living assets makes to public health and safety.

By: Jennifer Gulick

Proactively managing any infrastructure asset requires sufficient funding to maintain it to industry and community standards. Public trees are no different.

Unfortunately, most people consider the urban forest a luxury rather than a necessity. This view acknowledges the aesthetic value of trees but ignores the tremendous public health and safety benefits these publicly owned assets provide. It also discounts the considerable effort required to lessen liability by protecting trees from storms, insects, diseases, and climate change.

Because of this pervasive mind-set, decreased and/or insufficient funding is one of the greatest challenges facing urban foresters.

Every community’s forest is different and every community’s asset-management program is at a different developmental stage. At minimum, though, an effective program includes preventive maintenance, emergency response, and planting, as well as staff, equipment, and contractual services.

There’s no magic formula for determining sufficient funding for any given program, but there are credible sources you can use to indicate whether yours is adequately funded.

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