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Compendium of Best Urban Forest Management Practices

Chapter 4. Strategic and Operational Management Planning

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Strategic and Operational Management Planning

Conservation of trees in the urban environment can only be achieved effectively through the development and implementation of a strategic urban forest management plan that standardizes policies and practices surrounding activities related to trees. Many recommendations have been described (Kenney 1996; Nilsson 2000; Konijendijk 1999; Tschantz and Sacamano 1994; Pouyat and Zipperer 1992; Matheny and Clark 1998) and include: increasing the number of healthy trees and sustaining existing canopy cover, building a basic understanding of ecological principles within the human community, establishing region wide policies and standards for best management practices, developing and implementing strategic management plans based on tree inventories and GIS technologies, undertaking more research on the value of the ecological benefits provided by the urban forest, and; implementing functional urban design strategies that consider benefits such as corridors and shade.A municipality’s strategic urban forest plan attempts to bring together a number of diverse elements in one cohesive document. These elements include:

  • Planning, maintenance and protection of trees and how these are linked to the municipalities’ Official Plan
  • Detailing of responsibilities in Parks, Public Works,
  • Bylaw Control and Advisory Committees of the municipality
  • Details of tree inventory, standards for planting, and pruning, pest control, protection during construction, and what operations the municipality is responsible for, and
  • Private tree issues, education and regulation
  • A plan that encompasses a long-term vision with short-term goals is necessary for the conservation and management of urban trees.


Queens University Urban Forest Plan
Environmental Best Management Practices for Urban and Rural Land Development in BC
City of Toronto; Healthy Trees for a Beautiful City, Staff Symposium

Online documents (.PDF or .DOC)

City of Prince George, BC: Urban Forest Management Plan
Towards an Urban Forest Stewardship Strategy for Southern Vancouver Island
Neighbourhood Design Options Study: City of Saskatoon, SK
Trees Count: Friends of the Don East, Toronto, ON
Regina Urban Forest Management Strategy: City of Regina, SK
Overview of the Natural Areas Management Plan: Strategic Directions, City of Surrey
Urban Foresters in Big Picture Planning
A Model for Urban Forest Sustainability
Hazard Tree Operational Procedures: Toronto Region Conservation Authority

Non-Canadian sites and resources

Connecting People with Ecosystems in the 21st Century: an Assessment of our
Nation’s Urban Forests (USA)
Municipal Forest Management, USDA Forest Service
Urban Forestry Manual, USDA Forest Service
Tree Risk Assessment Management Plan, USDA Forest Service (.PDF)
Urban Forest Management Tools, USDA Forest Service
A Scientific Framework for Managing Urban Natural Areas, University of Florida
Conserving Wooded Areas in Developing Communities: Best Management Practices in Minnesota
A Guide: Developing a Street and Park Tree Management Plan, USDA Forest Service (.PDF)
A Technical Guide to Developing Urban Forest Strategic Plans & Urban Forest Management Plans
Urban Forestry: Mississippi Urban and Community Forestry Management Manual (.PDF)
50-year Strategic Plan for Kern County Community Forests (.PDF)
Excellent City Park System: What Makes it Great and How to Get There (.PDF)

Bibliographical Resources:

Federation of Ontario Naturalists (2002). A Smart Future for Ontario: How to Protect Nature and Curb Urban Sprawl in Your Community. Toronto, ON. October 2002.

Greenwood, J., Soulos, G., Thomas, N. (2000). Under cover: Guidelines for shade planning and design. NSW Cancer Council and NSW Health Department Sydney, 1998.

Harris, R., Clark, J., Matheny, N. (2004). Arboriculture: Integrated Management of Landscape Trees, Shrubs, and Vines, 4th Edition. International Society of Arboriculture. Champaigne, IL. 578 pp.

Pouyat, R., and Zipperer, W. (1992). The Uses and Management of Urban Woodlands. In: Proceedings of the Fifth National Urban Forest Conference. Rodbell, P. (editor). American Forestry Association, pp 26-29.

Smith, D., Mutton, M. (1993). Establishing a naturalized area: A step-by-step guide to planning and installing a natural area on the school grounds. Green Teacher, Vol. 34, pp. 33-36.

van Wassenaer, P. and Kenney, A. (2002). Strategic Urban Forest Management Planning. Faculty of Forestry. University of Toronto.


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