More cities are making room for trees in the urban environment. Trees soften the hard lines of manmade structures, add color, absorb excess noise, filter the air, provide shade, and often increase property values.
Urban forests of Tennessee are experiencing new demands and pressures as interest grows in greenways, heat islands, and storm water control. Encroachment by development, invasions of by insects like emerald ash borer, diseases such as thousand cankers disease of walnut and invasive plants like honeysuckle and privet, and problems with soil compaction threaten the health and vitality of urban forests.
The Urban & Community Forestry Program goal is to improve urban environments through planting and management of trees. It promotes the establishment of urban forestry programs in cities and towns, assists them in developing self-sustaining urban and community forestry programs, and provides technical assistance. The Urban Forestry Program provides the following services:
- Presentations and exhibits on the value of urban trees
- Assistance to communities for organizing tree boards, conducting tree inventories, and development of tree and landscape ordinances
- Information on tree selection, identification, planting, pruning, and tree care and maintenance
- Coordination of Tree City USA, TreeLine USA and TreeCampusUSA programs
- Coordination of the Tennessee Champion Tree program
- Technical training and advice for tree care professionals
- Advice for planning groups and developers concerning tree protection
- Assistance to communities that sustain damage or loss of urban forests from natural disasters
- Assessments of canopy and impervious surface in communities
In addition to technical assistance, the urban forestry staff administers grants that help communities initiate or expand their local urban and forestry programs, and grants that help communities and non-profits plant trees on public land.
The urban forestry staff also serves as a liaison with, and provides assistance to, the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council, a group of individuals and organizations promoting better tree care and improving urban environments.