Forestry is traditionally associated with management of large tracts of timberland and smaller woodlots. Often these forests are quite distant from the daily lives of most people. All of the trees within a town, village, or city make up the "community forest". The community forest can include street and yard trees, parks, cemeteries, school grounds, and undeveloped green spaces. Urban and Community Forestry is the management of community forests to establish and maintain healthy trees for air and water quality benefits, energy savings, environmental health, as well as to enhance the quality of life for urban residents. The urban and community forest also contains wildlife, waterways, built roads and structures, and people. This is where most people in New York live and work.
Trees provide numerous environmental, social and economic benefits for people, yet urban areas present challenging environments for trees to grow and survive in. The environment and human actions can cause different stresses to urban trees, some of which include: restricted root-growth area, road-salt exposure, soil moisture extremes, compacted soil, reduced soil fertility, pollution, improper pruning, trenching, and damage from lawn-care equipment, snow plows or vandalism. These stressful growing conditions can cause a decline in tree health and may eventually result in death, if not corrected in time. By actively managing our community forests, we protect these valuable resources and preserve and/or enhance the resulting benefits.
Studies show that trees improve air and water quality, reduce flooding, reduce cooling and heating energy needs, increase property values and improve the quality of life for people and wildlife around them.
Trees remove air and water pollutants through both their root systems and their leaves. Tree canopies shade buildings, sidewalks, streets and other structures keeping them cooler which reduces air conditioning and other energy needs in summer. Strategically placed trees, and correct tree species selection, can shelter buildings from cold winds in winter months reducing heating costs.
The positive effects trees have on human health and well-being are numerous. Studies have found that exposure to trees reduces the symptoms of stress and depression, can aid in the recovery from surgery, and reduce the incidence of domestic violence. People are more likely to exercise if parks are nearby. When people utilize parks and shady street trees, they are more likely to meet and establish bonds with their neighbors, which helps to create a sense of community. When people enjoy spending time in their neighborhoods, they develop pride and a sense of ownership in their communities. The presence of trees and the proximity to parks can also increase residential and commercial property values.
Last updated April 9, 2021