Make a Strong Urban and Community Forestry Program

The DCR Urban and Community Forestry Program and the USDA Forest Service have developed standards to help build and build upon a strong community tree program. The USDA Forest Service monitors each state's performance based on how many communities are meeting these standards. Federal funding supporting community tree programs increases as more communities achieve these standards.

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.

Below are the National Performance Standards for a Strong Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program.

Table of Contents

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.

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).

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

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.

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.

Tree City USA

A strong UCF program will have achieved the Tree City USA status

Key Actions for Tree City USA

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

Additional Resources for Massachusetts Community Forestry Capacity Worksheet

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