Planning the Urban Forest

The culmination of a three-year research project, Planning the Urban Forest is a best-practices manual about integrating urban forestry into municipal planning activities.

Urban forests provide enormous environmental, social, and economic benefits. In addition to aesthetics, urban forests conserve natural ecosystems and sustain clean air and water. They reduce stormwater runoff, cool the urban heat island, reduce air pollution, and provide wildlife habitat. Yet the tree canopy in many U.S. metropolitan areas has declined significantly over the last few decades due to increased urbanization.

The solution is far more complex than planting more trees, however. Urban forestry professionals and advocates must maximize green infrastructure (the natural environment) while reducing the costs of gray infrastructure (the built environment). While both are important, communities that foster green infrastructure are more livable, produce fewer pollutants, and are most cost-effective to operate.

This report, prepared by the American Planning Association (APA) in collaboration with the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and American Forests (AF), and supported by the USDA Forest Service, addresses the need for planners to adopt a green infrastructure approach and presents guidelines for incorporating trees into the planning process.

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Planning the Urban Forest coverIn addition to the guiding principles of urban forestry, Planning the Urban Forest contains case studies, an appendix about incorporating green infrastructure in a comprehensive plan, and lists of web resources.

Urban forestry professionals and advocates will learn how to interface with the urban planning process to maximize green infrastructure and reduce gray infrastructure costs. Thirteen case studies illustrate best practices in planning for urban and community forestry.

PAS subscribers will receive this report as part of their subscription. It is available to everyone for purchase at APA's PlanningBooks.com.

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Podcasts and Presentations

Listen as urban forestry experts discuss the importance of establishing and maintaining an urban forestry program. This podcast features the report's general editor, Jim Schwab, AICP, American Planning Association; Cheryl Kollin, American Forests; Jim Skiera, International Society of Arboriculture; and Phillip Rodbell, USDA Forest Service.



October 2008 AICP Symposium, "Making a Difference with Green Community Strategies," with Phillip Rodbell, Nancy McKeever, and Lee Epstein.

Symposium podcasts and presentations

Related Materials

Articles by Jim Schwab, general editor of Planning the Urban Forest.

"Planning for Healthy Trees," American Trees, Spring 2008.

"Issues in Arboriculture: A Bridge to Planners" column in the Society of Municipal Arborists' City Trees, July-August 2008.

"Better Foliage Through Zoning," with Carrie Fesperman, Zoning Practice, June 2008.