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Many of the best urban forest programs in the country have created and regularly use an Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) to define the scope and methodology for accomplishing urban forestry goals. Such plans often include maintenance standards, tree inventories, planting, removal, reforestation, rotation planting, tree selection processes, personnel training and development,  and budgets, to name a few.

Recently, UMFPs have started including more language geared towards private property owners and community organizations because in order to successfully maintain a healthy urban forest, it’s important to include all urban forest stakeholders in the management process. Later in this guide, we outline some great resources to help with urban forest management and planning.


Credit: Friends of the Urban Forest

The day-to-day management of an urban forest can involve operations-based tools such as tree inventories or asset-management software to help keep track of routine activities like tree maintenance. Tree inventories are an important part of the planning and management process, and there are a variety of software programs that exist to help track local inventory and urban forests management activities. Visit the U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area’s guide to some inventory programs that urban foresters are using.

This resource guide will focus on the urban forest ecosystem assessment tools that urban forest managers often turn to for further assistance with urban forest planning beyond the day-to-day management.

Urban forest assessment tools provide a snapshot of the health status, extent and structure of an urban forest in order to quantify the benefits that it provides. Ecosystem assessment tools can also help track trends or changes to the urban forest and inform future management decisions.

Assessments sometimes involve collecting field data and analyzing an inventory of the urban forest, a process known as the “bottom-up approach.” Other types of ecosystem assessments use aerial imagery for analysis, which is known as the “top-down approach.” The bottom-up and top-down approaches will be explained in more detail in the coming pages of this resource guide.


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Section II: How to Choose an Urban Forest Assessment Tool