Strengthening Urban and Community Forestry for Multiple Benefits


This position statement raises awareness and supports a shared understanding of the value and impact of urban and community forests and their management on a full scope of environmental, economic, and social benefits. 


Urban and community forests are composed of publicly and privately owned trees within an urban or community area, including individual trees along streets, parks, school areas, in backyards, commercial spaces, and natural areas. 


The Society of American Foresters (SAF) recognizes that urban and community forests are vital to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of society and supports practices that strengthen and improve their conditions as our population becomes increasingly urbanized. Urban and community forests provide critical services related to physical and psychological human health, air quality, energy consumption, water quality, fire protection, and recreation, among many others. 

SAF supports:

(1) Increasing and sustaining investment in urban and community forests as well as broader and more equitable establishment, maintenance, and sustainability of urban forest ecosystems for all communities of all socioeconomic statuses;
(2) Applying science-based, sustainable, urban forest management practices through technical training for forestry professionals and integrating urban ecology into broader land-use planning systems;
(3) Implementing new partnerships and systems that improve urban wood utilization workforce development and diversification;
(4) Monitoring urban and community forests and implementing adaptive management to improve outcomes and measure successes;
(5) Utilizing urban and community forest planning to foster greater connection and engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders and the public.

It is important to note that urban and community forests present unique challenges and opportunities for forest management. Furthermore, urban and community forestry is a rapidly growing field that is central to a sustainable future due to its outsized influence on land use trends, human health and well-being, and ecological and environmental conditions. Sustaining the management and use of urban and community forest resources, including maintaining ecological functions and associated green infrastructure, require policy and regulatory frameworks, forward-looking research and investment programs, professional development opportunities, professional credentialing, public education, and institutional government and private sector partnerships.

Approved: December 2023

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