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NCFS-Home >> Urban Forestry >> Tree Boards


Citizens Working Together for a Healthier Community Forest

A Town Tree Board or Committee is a citizen led group, that works with town public officials to improve health of the urban and community forest through tree plantings, advocacy, education, management and maintenance activities.

  • Why Have a Tree Board?
  • Advocate – for public tree and forest management, and support urban and community forestry.
  • Get Work Done – help with a tree inventory, an education campaign, a planting program or tree ordinance.
  • Bring in Additional Resources – help apply for grants, solicit private donations, organize fundraisers, and advocate for larger budgets.
  • Reduce Conflicts – help reduce potential conflicts by providing a forum for reviewing complaints, addressing safety issues, and making recommendations to the town.
  • Help Raise Public Awareness – educate residents about the importance of trees and urban forestry, and raise public awareness of the needs of trees and forests.
  • Improve your Urban and Community Forest – all these activities result in an improved urban and community forest for your city or town.

How are Tree Boards Formed?

Some Tree Boards may be part of a Landscape, Beautification or Planning Committee, but most arise as part of the Tree City USA program. In larger communities, the Tree Board may be a part of a department responsible for tree care and arboriculture. Having a separate committee is beneficial as it ensures that trees are addressed specifically, and not simply an add-on to other committee concerns.

Most boards are advisory to the town, but some have additional authority as the town determines appropriate. A Tree Board structure, authority, duties and membership are established within an ordinance.

  • Examples of types of Tree Boards

  • In place of a department, in small communities, a board can coordinate contracts for tree maintenance and planting; visit sites and resident complaints; and manage a tree inventory.
  • As a volunteer action group, a board can plan and coordinate volunteer tree plantings, organize training workshops, educational programs, and fundraising.
  • As an advisory group to town staff, a board can research and recommend ordinance provisions for new or revised ordinances, develop tree species lists for public planting, develop a tree management plan and associated policy.
  • As an official committee, a board can act on behalf of the community to apply for state and national grants, start and manage a tree nursery, and help create parks in town.
  • Or any combination of the above that serves the needs of their community.
  • Tips for Successful Tree and Forest Boards
  • Try to build a board that is representative of the diversity of your community.
  • Look for members with some area of expertise (arborist, communications specialist, grant writer, etc.). Make sure, in particular, to have some members with knowledge of trees, forestry and arboriculture.
  • Find members who are interested in working positively with all constituents, town commissions, and other public officials.
  • Start with some easily achievable and tangible projects. Some tree boards have found that difficult projects (like writing a new tree ordinance or conducting a full inventory) often result in frustration and produce little to show for the effort.
  • Rotate your leadership and membership often. This helps groups guard against “burn-out” and continually brings in new ideas.
  • Make sure that all members are committed to finding solutions, not just identifying problems.
  • Example Tree and Forest Committee Duties
  • Direct a survey or inventory of existing town trees and forest lands in order to improve understanding of the town’s forest resources.
  • Develop and recommend a Tree Management Plan.
  • Identify areas of town in need of additional beautification and plantings.
  • Develop and maintain a list of recommended species for planting on public spaces.
  • Seek and apply for grants to assist the town in its efforts to achieve its vision.
  • Promote public knowledge and awareness of the benefits of trees and forests.
  • Act, in an advisory capacity, on tree related issues with respect to development, re-development and management of public properties.
This page updated Tuesday, February 28, 2017 16:36

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