This guide is designed to support you in thinking about how you can increase the climate and human health benefits of urban forests in your work. More specifically, it is designed to help you evaluate the potential impacts from climate change and select actions to respond to those impacts within the context of a particular project, such as the development of a community tree planting program or the restoration of a natural area or park.
Once you determine your project area or location, you will want to clearly articulate the management goals and objectives for your project.
As you set up a new project, you will want to answer two fundamental questions:
- Where is your project located? The project could include all of the street trees across a municipality or focus on one particular nature area or feature.
- What are you trying to achieve? The project should articulate clear management goals and objectives to describe the intent of the project and the desired outcomes.
Management goals describe the broad outcomes you are trying to accomplish. Goals outline the big picture and set the long-term vision for where you want to go.
Goals for an urban forestry project might include things like:
- Increase tree species diversity to reduce the risks of pests and disease
- Increase canopy cover to reduce the urban heat island effect
- Reduce invasive species cover to allow canopy trees to regenerate in natural areas
- Improve water quality and reduce stormwater runoff through green infrastructure
Management objectives are more specific actions that support the completion of a goal. Using the house analogy, your goals form the foundation that you build on, while the objectives are the walls and roof that form the shell of the house. As much as possible, objectives should be SMART:
- Specific: Be clear in describing the outcomes of the broader goals that you’ve identified. What will things “look like” when you have achieved your goal?
- Measurable: Include metrics that will help you determine whether you have met your goal.
- Achievable: Be realistic about what actions you can take on, breaking big actions into several smaller steps if you need to.
- Relevant: Connect objectives to one or more of your broader management goals to ensure you are heading in the right direction.
- Time-bound: Specify a date or time frame for accomplishments, which could be a deadline for accomplishing an action or something that is repeated continually throughout the life of the plan.
|Management Goal||Management Objective|
|Increase tree species diversity to reduce the risks of pests and disease||Have no more than 20% of a family, 10% of a genus and 5% of a species across all street trees (25 years)|
|Increase canopy cover to reduce the urban heat island effect||Increase a neighborhood or city’s tree equity score from 20 to 40 points (20 years)|
|Reduce invasive species cover to allow canopy trees to regenerate in natural areas||Reduce area covered by invasive buckthorn from 10% to no more than 5% (10 years)|
|Improve water quality and reduce stormwater runoff through green infrastructure||Stabilize 50 feet of eroding banks (5 years)|
Need more help? The Urban Forestry Toolkit provides additional resources to assist with the planning process for both small and large areas, including community assessment and goal setting.