Forestry Case Studies
The partner organizations in the project collaborated for several months in an intensive selection process. They examined potential case studies and chose those they thought provided an exemplary nationwide cross-section for illustrating best practices in planning for urban and community forestry. Below are short summaries of the final selections that were included in the final report. Below each summary are some useful links for those interested in examining online materials about the individual communities and their programs.
- Baltimore County, Maryland
- Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Emeryville, California
- Flagstaff/Coconino County, Arizona
- Flower Mound, Texas
- Ithaca, New York
- Kansas City Metropolitan Area
- McDowell Creek Watershed, North Carolina
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Olympia, Washington
- Palm Beach County, Florida
- Salem, Oregon
- Urbana, Illinois
Baltimore County, Maryland
Baltimore County's once-abundant forests have declined in the face of clear cutting, development, and lack of stewardship. In 2003, a steering committee brought together by the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management undertook the "Linking Communities to the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators" Project to evaluate, protect, and improve the health of the remaining forest land.
User name: deprm
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Incorporating Tree Protection in the Development Process
In this college town, tree protection has been fully incorporated into the site development process. Developers are required to submit a Landscape Protection Plan with their site plans and attend a preconstruction conference with the town manager. In addition, developers are required to assign the role of Landscape Protection Supervisor to one of their crew members, who undergoes training and certification by the city, and must be present whenever construction activity is occurring. This requirement also applies to existing single and two-family home renovations where land disturbance exceeds 5,000 square feet and a building permit is requested.
Urban Forestry and Brownfield Redevelopment
Located between San Francisco and Berkeley, Emeryville has responded to development pressures and the presence of brownfield contamination in an innovative way that includes urban forestry as part of an integrated approach. The urban forest plays a role in the city's stormwater management and redevelopment strategies, and implementation is carried out by a variety of city and county agencies though various programs.
Flagstaff/Coconino County, Arizona
Conservation-Based Planning Protects Scenic Open Space and Forests
As a reflection of the residents who value the scenic beauty of the area, Coconino County has adopted a conservation-based comprehensive plan to protect views and open space. Benefits of this plan include habitat protection and predictability. The comprehensive plan supports forest ecosystem health via public involvement, forest treatment projects, and utilization of Firewise building principles. Recognizing the threat from wildfires, the Flagstaff Fire Department devised Hazard Mitigation Best Practices to reduce risk and promote forest restoration. Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership and Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council produced a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the area.
Flower Mound, Texas
Conservation Development and Ecosystem Benefits
Located near the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, the Town of Flower Mound wanted to preserve its rural character and small town scale in the face of development pressures. In order to implement these objectives, the town implemented voluntary conservation development, a Smart Growth technique where developers cluster homes and preserve open space within a defined development site. To demonstrate the environmental benefits of conservation development over traditional development, the town quantified the area's land cover, including the urban forest. The town uses incentives to encourage conservation development to protect its open space, natural habitat, and rural character.
Ithaca, New York
Planting Technology and Participatory Urban Forestry
Ithaca is the home of Cornell University, and the city's urban forestry program boasts some of the most innovative techniques thanks to the research institution's presence. Through a partnership with university researchers, the city has experimented with forestry technologies such as bare-root planting and structural soils. Citizen participation also plays a major role at all levels of Ithaca's urban forest management, from volunteer "Citizen Pruners" to a citizen-controlled Shade Tree Advisory Committee.
Kansas City Metropolitan Area
Regional Policies for Green Infrastructure
A broad mix of urban and community forestry programs function in the bi-state Kansas City metro area. Efforts vary considerably in their scope, intensity, impact, and level of political and financial support. Still, there is a longstanding community culture that is supportive of parks and forestry, as demonstrated by the 29 member cities in the Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA program, impressive efforts by two tree-focused nonprofit organizations, and strong collaboration among local and state agencies. Emerging regional green infrastructure policies and programs provide an increasingly strong framework to support local forestry programs as well.
McDowell Creek Watershed, North Carolina
Regional-Level Canopy Analysis and Watershed Management
Regional and local governments in central North Carolina have been working to improve the water quality of their primary drinking water source, Mountain Island Lake, in the face of intense development over the last decade. In 2003, Mecklenburg County undertook an urban ecosystem analysis to show how the benefits of using natural vegetation, derived from land cover requirements, can address stormwater and water quality needs. The McDowell Creek Watershed Management Plan sets water quality goals, and using the analysis data and tools, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Stormwater Services staff can measure reforestation efforts to see how effective their management plan is and make adjustments as needed.
Agency Collaboration and Comprehensive Planning for Urban Forests
In Minneapolis, collaboration between different government entities and integration of urban forestry into planning processes and agency programs are yielding a holistic approach to forest management. While the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is the agency responsible for managing public trees, the city recognized that many other departments and organizations significantly impact the urban forest's long-term health. In response, the city crafted an urban forestry policy that increased cooperation between the City Council, Park and Recreation Board, and various city departments. The city is also in the process of tightening the connections between its Urban Forest Policy Plan and comprehensive planning.
In Olympia, urban forestry is addressed as a community element on a par with housing, transportation, or economic development. In addition to having its own comprehensive plan element, the urban forest program has two primary implementation mechanisms--the Master Street Tree Plan and the Tree Protection and Replacement Ordinance. To work toward its goals, Olympia has developed a "level of service" approach to achieve street tree planting, tree maintenance, and hazard tree abatement objectives. In addition, the city has received grants to conduct separate projects, including a structural soil demonstration project, a low-income and underserved population outreach campaign, and an anti-tree topping campaign.
Palm Beach County, Florida
Prompted by a significant tree canopy loss from Hurricanes Francis and Jeanne, which battered the region in 2004, Palm Beach County received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct an Urban Ecosystem Analysis. This case study presents how Palm Beach County leaders will use this study's findings and tools as a baseline for urban forestry restoration and, more broadly, to connect future land planning decisions to green infrastructure. The county has an exceptional natural areas acquisition program, which has acquired large tracts of natural vegetation to safeguard this resource. County planners and managers have also targeted specific areas for restoration, increasing tree canopy cover as a best management practice.
Water quality and habitat preservation are the related focal points that bring together a range of programs, ordinances, and plans that address urban forestry in Salem. Trees are an integral part of the protected riparian buffer established along the Willamette River, and the city's stormwater program provides free trees to property owners adjacent to riparian areas. Developers are required to submit tree conservation plans and provide street trees for residential developments, and are prohibited from cutting down significant trees or stands. In addition, the city encourages developers to mitigate water quality impacts through tree-friendly techniques such as restorative plantings and tree planting in parking lots to reduce impervious surface area.
Urbana's commitment to its urban forest is in plain sight: 95 percent of its parkways are lined with trees. The city has integrated tree planting as part of infrastructure expenditures in its Capital Improvement Plan, and further promotes tree planting through zoning and landscaping ordinances. Urbana also carries out preventive, systematic pruning of trees to avoid branch and tree failure before nuisance complaints or injuries occur. Removed trees and branches find new uses through the Landscape Recycling Center, a program that transforms municipal and private landscape waste into mulch and firewood. That process is self-financed through disposal fees and proceeds from sales of the recycled products.