Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should Communities Invest in Urban and Community Forestry?
What Makes a Strong Urban and Community Forestry Program?
What is Tree City USA?
What are the State Laws that Govern Public Trees?
What is a Risk Tree?

Urban Forestry Resources

Program Management

State Laws that Govern Public Shade Trees
Funding and Sustaining an Urban Forestry Program
Community Tree Boards and Committees
Tree Survey / Inventory Resources
Example Urban Forest Management Plans
Community Tree Ordinances and Bylaws for Massachusetts
Additions to Zoning and Subdivision Regulations

Resource Management

Planning, Selecting, and Planting Community Trees
Tree Care
Risk Trees
Protecting Trees During Construction
Trees and Storms
Invasives, Insects, and Diseases
Utilizing Urban Wood

Tree Benefits

Trees and Stormwater
Cooling Communities, Saving Energy, and Improving Air Quality

Historic Landscape Preservation

Educational Materials for Urban and Community Forestry

Ideas for Arbor Day

Other Resources


Why Should Communities Invest in Urban and Community Forestry?

What Makes a Strong Urban and Community Forestry Program?

An excellent urban and community forestry program uses coordinated community resources to efficiently and effectively grow, protect and manage community trees in a way that maximizes the social, economic, and environmental benefits that the urban and community forest provides to all residents.

The Massachusetts DCR Urban and Community Forestry Program and the USDA Forest Service have developed some standards criteria that can help indicate a strong program. In fact, the USDA Forest Service monitors each state's performance based on how many communities are meeting these standards. Massachusetts will receive more federal dollars, as more communities achieve these standards.

National Performance Standards for a Strong Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program: A strong program will meet each of the following standards:

  1. Management Plans: A strong UCF Program will have an urban natural resource management plan that guides the management of one of more urban natural resource at the community or watershed level. The plan must be based on some systematic / professional assessment of the resource(s). Plans that focus on or significantly include the "urban forest" (including street trees, parks and forested lands) will be preferred.
  2. Professional Staffing: A strong UCF program will rely on the services of an individual(s) who has one or more of the following credentials, and who advise and/or assist in the planting, protection, and maintenance of urban and community trees and forests on an annual basis:
    • Degree in a natural resource management field;
    • ISA, MCA or other equivalent professional certification; or
    • Completed a full course of MTWFA Professional Development Series or equivalent training (for communities under 10,000).
  1. Ordinances / Policies / Regulations: A strong UCF program follows and enforces a local or statewide ordinances or written policies that focus on planting, protecting, and maintaining urban and community trees and forests. This includes following and enforcing Massachusetts General Law Chapter 87. You can view sample Massachusetts tree ordinances
  1. Advocacy/Advisory Organizations: A strong UCF program actively works with one or more citizen or non-profit organizations, such as a tree board, tree commission, or non-profit organization that is chartered to advise/advocate for the planting, protection and maintenance of urban and community trees, forests or urban natural resources.
  1. Inter-Agency Coordination: A strong UCF program regularly coordinates with multiple agencies on issues of planting, protecting and maintaining community trees and forests. Other agencies might include planning boards, highway departments, conservation commissions, utilities, etc.
  1. Tree City USA: A strong UCF program will have achieved the Tree City USA status.

Massachusetts Community Forestry Capacity Worksheet:

The Massachusetts DCR Urban and Community Forestry Program has also developed a worksheet to assist communities in assessing their capacity for excellent urban and community forestry. This worksheet identifies eight different areas that contribute to an excellent UCF program. These standards for a strong UCF program is obviously slightly different from the ones defined above, however, this tool has proven to be useful for communities in their efforts to assess and strengthen their local UCF programs. The eight standards in this worksheet are:

  • Mature Tree Care
  • Planting Programs
  • Conserving Canopy at the Community Level
  • Legal and Policy Tools
  • Professional Staff
  • Managing through Partnerships
  • Education and Awareness Programs
  • Funding

Download Urban and Community Forestry Rapid Assessment Worksheet pdf format of Urban and Community Forestry Rapid Assessment Worksheet

What is Tree City USA and How Does Our Community Become One?

           -View a recorded webinar

           -Start your 2014 re-certification and growth award application

           -First time Tree City USA communities can request login information

Tree City USA Application Materials (Downloadable)

Program Management

What are the State Laws that Govern Public Trees?

Funding and Sustaining an Urban Forestry Program

Here are some valuable resources to help you fund and sustain your urban and community forestry program:

Community Tree Boards and Committees

Tree Survey / Inventory Resources

Example Urban Forest Management Plans

  Property Overview pdf format of Property Overview
 | Stand Description pdf format of Stand Description
  | Stand Recommendations pdf format of Stand Recommendations

Community Tree Ordinances and Bylaws for Massachusetts

(If you do not see your community's tree ordinance here, or we have an outdated copy, please send us an updated digital copy to Julie.Coop@state.ma.us

Community Tree Ordinances:

  • Amesbury pdf format of Amesbury
    Includes sections on the creation of a tree committee, tree planting guidelines, tree topping and pruning, and a draft street tree list.  
  • Belmont pdf format of Belmont
    Provides protection of trees during construction
  • Cambridge pdf format of Cambridge
    Includes procedures for tree protection during large development projects, tree replacement and a tree replacement fund.
  • Chicopee pdf format of Chicopee
    Includes provisions planting trees in the public way, for replacement trees when non-risk trees are removed, and enforcement and penalties for violation
  • Grafton pdf format of Grafton
    Establishes and defines the Public Shade Tree Management Advisory Board,  duties of the Tree Warden, provisions for maintenance and removal of trees and shrubs, planting permits (including prohibited plants), licensing requirements for work on public shade trees, removal of hazardous trees, prohibited acts and penalties.
  • Lexington pdf format of Lexington
    Includes duties of the tree warden, creation of a tree committee, protection of private trees during major construction or residential re-development, and establishment of a tree fund.
  • Ludlow
    Includes provisions for replanting or making a cash contribution to town for replacement trees when a non-hazardous tree is removed, subdivision planting, and tree protection during construction
  • Marblehead pdf format of Marblehead
    Regulations define responsibilities and authority of the tree warden, procedure for maintaining, removing, and planting trees in the public way, prohibited acts, excavation, and penalties
  • Newton pdf format of Newton
    Establishes and defines the roles of the Newton Tree Commission.
  • Newton pdf format of Newton
    Chapter 20 - Private tree preservation and Public tree protection
  • Quincy
    Procedure for protecting Significant Trees
  • Northampton pdf format of Northampton
    Establishes a tree committee as Tree Warden and defines duties.
  • Orleans pdf format of Orleans
    Process for permitting for planting, pruning, removal, and construction within the dripline of a public tree
  • Springfield doc format of Springfield
    Significant Tree Ordinance
    Protects public and private trees over 36” DBH or 75 years old.
  • Sturbridge pdf format of Sturbridge
    Provisions for removal of non-hazardous shade trees and replacement
  • Wellesley pdf format of Wellesley
    Includes provisions for tree removals, priority planting of street trees, including a preference for planting 8-20 ft from the traveled way, tree canopy goal, ongoing planning for plantings
  • Westfield pdf format of Westfield
    Establishes a tree committee as Tree Warden and defines duties.
  • Worcester pdf format of Worcester
    Provisions for protecting public trees, removal of non-hazardous trees, planting trees, topping, protection during construction, and cooperation with planning board

Additions to Zoning and Sub-Division Regulations

  • Granby pdf format of Granby
    Includes tree protection, tree replacement, and street tree planting during sub-division development.
  • Greenfield Parking Lot Ordinance pdf format of Greenfield Parking Lot Ordinance
    Parking lot guidelines to be added to zoning ordinance that includes some landscaping provisions.
  • Lawrence pdf format of Lawrence
    Includes landscape standards during land development projects, tree preservation and site plan review.
  • Ludlow pdf format of Ludlow
    Includes brief language for planting and preservation during subdivision projects.

Draft or Sample Tree Ordinances
(these may or may not have been approved and implemented)

  • Brookline Draft pdf format of Brookline Draft
    Similar to Lexington, defines duties of Tree Warden and protects trees during major re-development and residential re-development projects.
  • Foxboro Draft pdf format of Foxboro Draft
    Includes creation of a tree committee, planting guidelines, provisions for maintaining private trees, and Landmark Tree protection.
  • Pittsfield Draft pdf format of Pittsfield Draft
    Includes duties of the tree warden, adoption of chapter 87, and a process for planting, pruning and removing public hazard and non-hazard trees.
  • Model Tree Clearing Ordinance from Cape Cod Commission pdf format of Model Tree Clearing Ordinance from Cape Cod Commission
    Model bylaw to govern tree and land clearing.

Resource Management

Planning, Selecting, and Planting Community Trees

Tree Care

Risk Trees

A “risk tree” is a tree with structural defects likely to cause failure of all or part of the tree, which could strike a “target.” A target can be a vehicle, building, or a place where people gather such as a park bench, picnic table, street, or backyard. Because of the natural variability of trees, the severity of their defects, and the different sites upon which they grow, evaluating trees for hazardous defects can be a complex process. Inspecting trees for potential hazard liability is one of the most important components of any tree management system.

Find out more information about risk trees, risk tree rating, and risk tree management from the USDA Forest Service Northeast Center for urban and community forestry.

How to Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees – Forest Service Publication This fully-illustrated, easy to read, training manual is designed to improve public safety and protect tree health by assisting communities to design, adopt, and implement tree risk management programs; and training field staff to detect, assess, and correct hazardous defects in urban trees.”

Protecting Trees During Construction

Trees and Storms

Invasives, Insects, and Diseases 

Utilizing Urban Wood 

If urban and community forestry is ever to be sustainable, then the benefits that an urban forest provides must be translated into tangible funding.  Massachusetts communities recycle urban wood for mulch and fire wood, but perhaps there opportunities to do more with the products of the urban forest.

Tree Benefits 

Trees and Stormwater 

Urban forestry strategies can help satisfy many stormwater management requirements in a cost effective manner. Trees, forests, and other natural areas effectively manage water through interception, evopo-transpiration, and infiltration. Together, these processes can significantly reduce peak stormwater flows, stabilize base flows, and naturally filter drinking water.

Rain Gardens: A Way to Improve Water Quality in Our Communities--University of Massachusetts

Cooling Communities, Saving Energy, and Improving Air Quality 

Historic Landscape Preservation 

The growing interest in historic landscape preservation has given rise to numerous organizations and programs – and there's lots of information available on the web. A sampling:

Educational Materials for Urban and Community Forestry 

  • Planting Trees in Your Community Forest is a primer on the importance of trees in the community produced by Penn State . This richly illustrated, easy-to-read 40-page publication includes tree-related puzzles, projects, and other activities for 9- to 109-year-olds. It covers tree parts, types of trees, how to plant trees, insects and diseases that affect trees, caring for trees, and more. It includes a helpful glossary and sources for more information. (1999)
  • Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award winning, broad-based environmental education program for educators and students in Pre K - grade 12. PLT helps students learn HOW to think, not WHAT to think, about the environment. PLT, a program of the American Forest Foundation, is one of the most widely used environmental education programs in the United States and abroad.
  • The Forest Where Ashley Lives, An interactive CD-ROM, is now available from Iowa State University Extension.  The CD contains a version for teachers and students, including many urban forestry publications and activities.  A version of the book can be viewed here. The CD and book can be ordered by clicking here.    

Ideas for Arbor Day 

Please check out some examples of what other Massachusetts communities did this year to celebrate Arbor Day by clicking here doc format of arbordayideas.doc
.
Arbor Day Foundation Guide for Celebration Arbor Day

Other Resources

i-Tree Resources

Urban Forestry South Online Library – Links to publications, keyword search