GFC’s Urban and Community Forestry Program will offer a technical assistance program to cities and towns with populations of 50,000 and under, with a focus on disadvantaged areas as indicated on the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) . Cities and towns can apply for support to map, plan for and manage their urban forests. The care, management and expansion of healthy urban trees requires a suite of tools that many communities need to have.

These include:

A map of the urban forest to know:

Where are trees abundant, scarce, healthy, unhealthy or damaged?

Is our community gaining or losing our tree cover and at what rate? Should we be concerned?

How can we justify spending the right amount to ensure a healthy urban forest?

How much should we plant today, tomorrow, over the next decade to have a robust tree canopy?

What are trees contributing to clean air, climate mitigation, urban heat reduction, stormwater uptake?

Are trees equitably distributed regardless of race or income? If inequitable, how can this be changed?

A tree inventory to know:

Are there trees that are at risk of failure or areas that are storm damaged or could be in the future?

Are trees in parks, schools, city plazas, main streets in need of replacement or care to ensure future shade?

How much does our community need to spend to make sure trees last long into the future?

An urban codes audit to know:

Are we losing trees due to poor codes (inadequate standards for tree sites, planting or care, outdated tree lists) and are we losing open space due to excessive requirements (for parking, streets and other codes) that take away open space?

What are the new codes, standards and practices to adopt that will make our city less paved and more green while still accommodating growth?

What essential elements should we include to update our codes or adopt new ones?

An urban forest management or master plan to know:

Where are trees needed most urgently?

How can we budget for tree needs and integrate better tree care across city agencies?

What equipment and personnel do we need now and into the future?

Are we prepared for storms and tree damages (preparation, response, cleanup)?

What are the timeframe and actionable goals we need to have in place to manage the forest and trees effectively and efficiently?

If you need help with any of the above, consider applying for technical support assistance from the GA Forestry Commission.

Things to know:

How is Support Provided?

You will need to complete a short self-assessment survey for your community that takes about 20 minutes to complete online. The survey helps us to determine what support is needed. If the city is chosen to receive technical support you will receive that support directly from the GFC’s consultant, the Green Infrastructure Center. No money changes hands.

What Paperwork is Needed?

Other than completing the short survey, the only paperwork required if you are selected for technical support is a letter of commitment to participate.

What if I already know what kind of assistance we need?

You still have to take the survey. We must ensure you have all the bases covered and ask for the most strategic support for your community. So do fill out the survey. It includes a space to request project-specific support too. If you need financial support (e.g., to plant trees or hire a consulting arborist), you will need to apply for one of GFC’s Urban and Community Forestry grant programs.

What do I/my community need to contribute?

Some of your’ and your agencies’ time will be necessary for any technical assistance. You will need to review maps for accuracy, attend several (2-3) online workshops to review results or discuss goals and spend time on any strategies developed – those, of course, will be your decision.

Over a year, consider that you (combined with others in your agency) might contribute a few thousand dollars of time (combined). This is no more time than any other project you are participating in, but your community will get a value of around $10,000.

If your community is considered disadvantaged on CEJST, you may not need to provide a match, although a time commitment as described above will still be required for successful completion of the project. Non-disadvantaged communities may need to provide additional match.

I’m interested! What do I need to do next?

Step One: Attend the Georgia Forestry Commission Grant Webinar on November 6 at 11am. 

Step Two: Gather the information for the survey.

Below are the questions that will need to be answered beforehand, as the survey does not allow you to save work and come back later and must be completed in one setting.

  1. Does your locality have a digital tree canopy coverage map/data? How old is the data (what year was it created)?
  2. Does your city have a tree inventory? When was it collected, and for which areas? (entire city, neighborhood)
  3. Does your city have an urban forest management plan or forest master plan? How old is the plan (what year was it created)?
  4. Does your city have a storm mitigation plan? How old is the plan (what year was it created)?
  5. Does your city employ an arborist? If not, that’s okay too.
  6. What is the racial and ethnic makeup of the people a project would serve in your locality? If the project serves the entire city, you can use the census report for your area or look up the census block groups covered by the area you want to study. Most comprehensive plans list this information, but for the most up-to-date information, visit https://data.census.gov/cedsci/ and type in the name of your community to get results for your area.
  7. Are you the person who will be responsible for completing applications for assistance on behalf of your city? (If no, please be sure to gain the approval necessary before applying for financial or technical support.

Please be advised that if your answer to all # 1-5 of the above is “no,” that’s okay! Technical assistance is being provided to help your community answer “yes” to most or all of these questions in the future! For question 7, be sure to engage with the right staff or leadership from your community to ensure you can apply for assistance on behalf of your city, town, university, or other jurisdiction.

Step Three:  Take the Online Survey

Once you complete the required online application, you will be contacted in December 2023 to discuss your request and support availability. While this is a competitive application, the priority will be on disadvantaged communities as indicated on CEJST. We aim to support as many applicants as possible.

Please contact Joan Scales at jscales@gfc.state.ga.us or 478-733-2604 below for a paper copy if you cannot complete the online application due to disability or other similar reasons.