Have you ever driven along a tree-lined street and appreciated the shade, beauty, and sense of peace? You are experiencing the positive impacts healthy trees can have on communities.

Benefits of a thriving urban canopy:

  • Increasing property value. The presence of larger street trees can add from 3% – 15% to home values.
  • Increasing spending in business districts. Shoppers spend 9% – 12% more for goods and services in central business districts with high quality tree canopies.
  • Improving driving safety by decreasing highway and mid-block crash rates.
  • Preventing crime. Public housing communities with more trees experience 52% fewer total crimes, 48% fewer property crimes, and 56% fewer violent crimes.
  • Keeping citizens healthier by trapping dust, pollen and smoke, resulting in cleaner, cooler air.
  • Providing environmental benefits like oxygen production, carbon dioxide absorption, erosion prevention, improved water quality, and providing wildlife habitat.

How can communities keep their trees healthy?

To keep urban forests in top condition, it’s important for communities to engage the services of certified arborists. City arborists are familiar with every tree in their community. They collect measurements, take photos, and store their data in a database or app. They use this data to create and apply Management Plans to maintain a healthy canopy and safeguard citizens.

Municipal arborists’ activities include:

  • forestry, ecology, hydrology, atmospheric science, energy, and stormwater control
  • developing a tree risk management program
  • tree inspections and assessments
  • insect and disease management
  • planting location identification
  • budgeting
  • interaction with the community, politicians and other agencies

How to care for your community’s trees

  • Adopt a tree ordinance.
  • Develop a tree risk management program that includes:
    • Systematic scheduled inspections of all trees in high occupancy areas.
    • A protocol for prioritizing mitigation.
    • Recordkeeping, reporting and communications.
    • Standard of care adopted.
    • Tree risk assessment specifications meeting ANSI A300 Part 9 standards
  • Hire dedicated staff to supervise your community’s Management Program and the budget.
  • Consult or use an ISA Certified Arborist (TRAQ trained).
  • Require community forestry training for tree board members on an ongoing basis, including:
    • GAA
    • CAA
    • GUFC
    • Basic Tree Care with GFC
    • Extension and online training
  • Have an annual budget for risk management and ongoing tree care.
  • Only use tree care practices that follow ANSI standards and tree risk specifications.
  • Through the news media, recognize your community tree advocates and celebrate your community’s trees.
  • Recruit and retain volunteers.

Community Resources

Check out these resources for tree care, education, and certifications.

TitleDescriptionDocument Type
3. Community Tree Planting and Establishment Guidelines

This Document is intended to aid homeowners and local government staff in planting and directing the establishment and maintenance of community trees.

5. How to Plant Trees – A Homeowner’s Guide

“How do I plant a tree?” This is a common question, and tree planting and establishment guidelines have changed considerably over the past 20 years. Learning how to plant a tree and following proper practices when planting trees can lead to long term benefits from well established plants.

Arbor Day

Resources and ideas for local celebrations.

Page on GFC Website
Ask the Arborist

Online assistance for homeowner’s questions about the trees in your yard.

Page on GFC Website
Athens Community Tree CouncilExternal Website
Coastal Arborist Association

The Coastal Arborist Association (CAA) was founded in 2015 to provide education, training, and fellowship to arborists in the coastal region of Georgia and South Carolina.

External Website
Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation

Tree advocacy group.

External Website
Cobb Trees

Tree advocacy group.

External Website
Community Forestry Assistance Program

GFC’s Sustainable Community Forestry Program (SCFP) provides technical support to cities, counties, elementary schools, college campuses, home owners and nonprofit organizations.

Page on GFC Website
Community Forestry Friend Program Application

The Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) is rewarding communities and campuses implementing
exemplary urban forestry programs with a Community Forestry Friend social media badge. Earning
the badge means your community manages its trees with the best urban and community forestry
practices, partners and professionalism. Download application to apply for the Community Forestry Friend program.

eLearn Urban Forestry (eXtension Campus)

eLearn Urban Forestry is a distance-learning program for beginning urban foresters and allied professionals. These include foresters, natural resource planners, landscape architects, city officials and public works employees. (ISA credit and certificate of completion available)

External Website
eLearn Urban Forestry (Southern Regional Extension Forestry)

eLearn Urban Forestry is a distance-learning program for beginning urban foresters and allied professionals. These include foresters, natural resource planners, landscape architects, city officials and public works employees. (ISA credit not available)

External Website
Emergency Response Plan for Community Officials

An effective storm plan will help to minimize a storm’s impacts on your community forest. This Emergency Response Plan developed in Columbus, GA is a good example.

Georgia ReLeaf Program

Georgia ReLeaf efforts to help south Georgia communities replace tree canopy lost to severe storms and other communities planting trees for veterans.

External Website
Georgia Tree Council

Tree advocacy group who works to sustain Georgia’s green legacy by partnering with individuals, organizations, and communities in raising awareness toward improving and maintaining Georgia’s community forests.

External Website
Hazards of the Forest

Foresters and others who work outside and those who enjoy being in the outdoors are often confronted with hazards that can cause sickness, injury, or death. This booklet provides a brief description of those hazards to help you avoid an unpleasant encounter.

Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives Research

Take care of the forest, and it will take care of you. As research is being conducted and becoming available, findings reinforce what much of the urban forestry community already knows — that trees have a positive impact on human health. Check out research on why Healthy Trees make Healthy Lives.

External Website
Homeowner’s Role in Maintaining the Urban Forest

Download this guide to get tips on maintaining trees, selecting an arborist and a homeowner tree survey checklist.

Managing Storm Damaged Trees: Do’s and Don’ts

Check out this resource for the Do’s and Don’ts on how to manage damaged trees from a storm. Includes: how to hire a professional for clean up, chainsaw safety, pruning and maintenance for damaged trees and more.

Marietta TreeKeepers

Tree advocacy group.

External Website
Native Trees of Georgia Book

Book showing illustrations of trees native to Georgia.

Savannah Tree Foundation

Tree advocacy group.

External Website
Save Energy – Plant Trees!

This video provides insights into the value of planting trees.

SCFP Area Map – Sept 2021

SCFP Area Map by County

Storm Damaged Trees – Pruning Decision Guide

Right after a hurricane, communities and homeowners need to decide what to do with storm-damaged trees. Although damaged trees may seem to be dying, some trees can be restored, others will need to be removed, and still others will not require any special treatment and can be left alone.

Storm Mitigation Template

Community Forest Storm Mitigation Plan for Georgia Communities Template

Storm Mitigation Workbook

Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning for Georgia Communities Workbook

Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education® and Tree Line USA Programs

Celebrating communities all across America that are creating healthier and more abundant community forests.

Page on GFC Website
Trees Atlanta

Tree advocacy group.

External Website
Trees Columbus

Tree advocacy group.

External Website
U&CF Area Map 2023 AugPDF
Urban Forest Strike Team

This video outlines the work of GFC’s Urban Forest Strike Team, which helps communities deal with the aftermath of severe storms.

Urban Forest Sustainability and Management Review – Checklist

The Urban Forest Sustainability & Management Review System is designed to provide a framework for comprehensively evaluating urban forest management programs. This review system (the checklist and the process) can be used for municipal or county urban forest management programs, or to evaluate college or corporate campus management programs

External Website