San Francisco Claims Their Trees:

Across the United States, cities and regions all contend with a host of different environmental elements and human needs. Each city has its own approach to its urban forestry and community involvement, and San Francisco is no different.

Founded about five years ago, an initiative called The Urban Forest Map was created for the residents within San Francisco to take an active part in tallying up and taking inventory of the trees around them.

Their mission statement says, “The Urban Forest Map is a collaboration of government, nonprofits, businesses and you to map every tree in San Francisco…The information we gather will help urban foresters and city planners to better manage trees in specific areas, track and combat tree pests and diseases, and plan future tree plantings. Climatologists can use it to better understand the effects of urban forests on climates, and students and citizen scientists can use it to learn about the role trees play in the urban ecosystem.”

Partnering with this forum is the San Francisco Department of Public Works. The department holds meeting open to the public nine months out of the year, and provide online records of all concerns discussed.

With this sort of accountability and freedom to offer input, the Urban Forest Map was created to help, “provide a one-stop repository for tree data, welcoming information from any agency or group and enabling and celebrating citizen participation.”

Hand in hand with the Urban Forest Map initiative are the Friends of the Urban Forest, an organization founded almost four decades ago as a response to cut fundings for the urban forest. Since then FUF has, “developed a dedicated Tree Care program led by an ISA-certified arborist….[and]  launched its Youth Tree Care program (now called Green Teens), one of the nation’s few paid urban forestry vocational skills training programs.”

As we strive to take a more active approach in our urban forests, knowledge is power, and technologies are constantly created, updated and improved to tell us more about the trees we integrate into our cities’ landscapes. An essential part of the success of these initiatives is the support and participation of the local inhabitants. It’s time to grow our environments.