Developing a Street Tree Master Plan
development of a master plan is an important tool in managing our
community forests. A management plan establishes a clear set of
priorities and objectives. The Northeast
Center for Urban and Community Forestry has developed a Guide to Completing a Street and Park Tree Management Plan plus a Sample Management Plan to assist small to medium sized communities
in developing management plans. Other aspects of a master plan include
a municipal ordinance and a street tree inventory.
a Master Plan?
See, for example, what the Village Green Committee in Red Hook, NY, is doing ensure the long-term health of the village's tree population.
- To decrease the risk and the cost associated with tree branch failures
- To provide greater energy savings and pollution reduction through maintaining a healthier urban forest
- To increase storm water recharge and reduce the need for building more storm drainage infrastructure
- To help beautify the environment and create a community identity
- Citizen Tree Groups
Developing a master plan takes input from many different individuals who will be impacted by the management of the community forest. Formal citizen groups such as a Tree Board can assist tree managers in relevant ways to support, encourage and improve the growth of the community forest. Tree Board members can be a village trustee, a Department of Public Works employee, or a resident who cares about village trees. The Tree Board can work with local agencies such as Cornell Cooperative Extension or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to help set up the management planning process. A Tree Board can also be empowered to oversee the community forest master plan by a municipal tree ordinance. If given this responsibility, the next step for this group would be to organize an inventory of all street trees and planting spaces within the municipal boundaries.
to Write a Municipal Tree Ordinance
is a formal long-term policy for establishing tree care policy.
An ordinance sets up permanent procedures and establishes legal
authority. The tree ordinance establishes a permanent and official
policy for the community. It declares standards for selection, planting
and maintenance. It can also provide a reasonable basis for dealing
with the public. How do you get one in place?
with a sample
with a small group representing various interests including local
government, street maintenance, tree care professionals, utilities,
and the general public.
the ordinance clear, reasonable, and concise.
the process as public as possible.
standard procedures to get the ordinance into law. Publicize the
ordinance widely after it becomes law. Make sure all municipal agencies are aware of the ordinance and its provisions.
Street Tree Inventory
Conducting a street tree inventory is essential to developing a community forest master plan. It is a complete survey of all trees and planting sites within the municipal right-of-way. An inventory:
- Reveals the species composition, age, and condition of community trees
- Supplies guidelines for new street tree plantings
- Identifies where to focus limited resources and allows tree managers to set priorities for pruning and removal work
- Quantifies the economic and environmental benefits provided by the community forest
The street tree inventory allows a community to manage the community forest proactively rather than reactively in order to promote its long term health and maximize the benefits it provides.
Conducting a tree inventory usually means hiring an arborist or consulting forester. The Community Forestry Program Work Team has developed a fast response or SWAT team approach to provide small communities with an inexpensive alternative. In this method, a Student Weekend Arborist Team performs a walking survey and, in one or two days, inventories all trees and planting spaces within the community. Find out how your
community can participate at Conducting
a street tree inventory.
© Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.