Glossary

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USDA Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry Program

Like all 50 states in the United States, Massachusetts is eligible for assistance and funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service for the development of urban and community forestry programs to protect, maintain and enhance urban forests. The urban forest includes street trees and trees in parks, public grounds, town forests and on private property. Assistance and funding from the Forest Service is channeled to state coordinating agencies chartered with developing and maintaining urban and community forestry assistance programs at state, regional and municipal levels. The objective is to help states develop self-sustaining programs.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) acts as the coordinating agency for Massachusetts and is chartered with the role of developing and administering urban and community forestry programs for Massachusetts and helping cities and towns with the development of self-sustaining urban and community forestry programs by offering technical assistance, education, research and grants.

Federal funding is allocated to states based on formulas that, among other factors, take into account community performance in managing their urban forests. The Forest Service measures and tracks community performance using four parameters as benchmarks [ Table 1 ]. States where communities actively seek state assistance for developing urban and community forestry programs and that demonstrate improving urban and community forestry programs - as measured by how many of the four parameters attained - are more likely to receive a larger allocation of funding.

Communities that achieve all four performance parameters become 'Managing Communities' with a score of 4. Communities that achieve between one and three of the parameters are 'Developing Communities' with scores between 1 and 3.


The Massachusetts Sustainable Community Forestry Program

The Massachusetts Sustainable Community Forestry Program is a community state assistance and awards program developed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to help Massachusetts communities improve programs for maintaining urban and community forestry health and extant. The program is designed to increase community awareness about the social, economic, and environmental benefits of community trees and forests and provides technical assistance, education, research, and a matching grant program to assist Massachusetts communities with developing programs to protect, maintain, and enhance community trees and forest assets. The program is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Urban and community forestry management performance is measured using six parameters [ Table 2 ] as benchmarks of proactive urban and community forestry management. Four of these parameters are similar to those used by National Urban and Community Forestry program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Tree City USA accreditation and evidence of routine inter-agency or inter-departmental communication regarding planting, protection, and/or maintenance of urban and community trees and forests represent the fifth and sixth parameters. Communities that achieve all six parameters receive a score of 6 and are recognized for having community programs that can lead to sustainable urban and community forestry health.


Received State Assistance

A community that has receive state assistance has applied for, and received, state assistance for urban and community forest management in the past. In addition to having received direct funding, technical, educational assistance also qualifies as assistance.

Intent:
State assistance should have a significant impact on a local community's ability to develop its own self-sustaining Urban and Community Forestry program.
Definition:
Technical, educational and/or financial assistance provided to a community by the state forestry agency, or provided by other program partners through a written agreement with the state forestry agency. For example:
  1. Training of community advisory/advocacy committee members or community staff involved in tree and forest program management.
  2. A state grant is provided to a community for achieving a local UCF goal.
  3. Technical assistance includes, but is not limited to:
    1. providing expertise and resources to help communities develop inventories, resource assessments and/or management plans;
    2. assisting in the hiring of a professional UCF staff position in a community;
    3. providing expertise and guidance in ordinance development and review, and/or;
    4. assisting with the establishment of an advocacy/advisory organization or providing ongoing consultation with an existing organization to help improve its effectiveness.

Documented Management Plan

Possession of an up-to-date documented management plan that is based on a professionally conducted tree inventory or tree assessment is one of the four performance benchmarks used by the Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program to measure of community urban forest management performance.

Intent:
Possessing, using and periodically updating a management plan demonstrates a community's commitment to the comprehensive management of its community tree and forest resources.
Definition:
A detailed document or set of documents, developed from professionally-based inventories/resource assessments that outlines the future management of the community's trees and forests. The plan must be active (i.e., in use by the community and updated as needed to incorporate new information). Examples include:
  1. An "Urban Forest Master Plan," based on satellite imagery/GIS or other inventories and assessments, that set goals for tree canopy cover, recommends areas for reforestation, recommends areas for preservation, promotes community education and outreach efforts, and recommends tree maintenance policies for town/city/county properties.
  2. A "Public Tree Planting and Maintenance Plan" based on an inventory of trees and open spaces in street rights-of-way and parkland. These types of plans include information such as a prioritized list of tree pruning and removals, a prioritized list of replacement and new tree plantings, a recommended yearly budget, and a recommended list of tree species for replanting.
  3. A community's Comprehensive Land Use plan that incorporates specific management recommendations for the community's trees and forest resources.
  4. A hazard tree reduction and replanting plan based on an inventory of community trees.

Advocacy/Advisory Group

Presence of advocacy and/or advisory groups or agencies actively operating within a community is one of the four performance benchmarks used by the Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program as a benchmark to measure community urban forest management performance.

Intent:
Many local UCF programs began through the efforts of local citizen's groups, and these groups often serve as a catalyst to encourage active local urban forest resource management for the long term. This measure aims to ensure that community residents and program stakeholders are informed, educated, and engaged in the development and implementation of a sound community forestry program at the local level.
Definition:
Organizations that are formalized or chartered to advise (organizations established by the local government) or advocate or act (non-governmental organizations active in the community) for the planting, protection and maintenance of urban and community trees and forests. For example:
  1. A board of citizens appointed by local elected officials to advise policy makers on needed tree ordinances, policies, and management.
  2. A voluntary citizens group such as "City ReLeaf" that is active in advocating for tree planting, preservation and management in communities.

Local Ordinance/Regulation

Active community enforcement of a state ordinance law or establishment of its own local ordinances or regulations for the planting and protection of trees is one of the four performance benchmarks used by the Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program to measure community urban forest management performance.

Massachusetts has instituted statewide ordinances to be enforced by all communities for the protection of public trees under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 87 which all communities in Massachusetts, by law must enforce. Demonstration of recent enforcement of MGL Chapter 87 qualifies as having met the Forest Service parameter for ordinances. But communities are encouraged to establish and develop their own local ordinances, sub-division regulations and/or written policies that pertain to the planting, maintenance or protection of urban and community public trees.

Intent:
Ordinances and/or policies must be codified, be followed and/or routinely enforced by some mechanism within the community, and guide the community in the proper care, establishment and protection of community trees and forests. The definition and examples below recognize the fact that effective public policies are not always contained in a single "Tree Ordinance."
Definition:
Statutes or regulations that direct citizens and local governments in the planting, protection and maintenance of urban and community trees and forests. For example:
  1. A town "Tree Ordinance" that dictates how trees are to be planted and maintained in the community and under what conditions trees can be removed. Depending on the jurisdiction, the ordinance may apply to just public trees, or public and private trees.
  2. A comprehensive set of community regulations and/or policies on tree preservation and landscaping that may include sections of the Zoning Ordinance, Code and Public Facilities Manual.
  3. City regulations that contain specific forest management requirements developed to be in compliance with a state "Watershed Protection Ordinance." The regulations may establish tree and natural areas preservation, buffer requirements, reforestation and building restrictions for each watershed in the community.
  4. A local ordinance established under a state mandate that requires each local jurisdiction to adopt tree protection standards and employ a "Tree Warden," or equivalent, with specific statutory responsibilities to oversee the planting, protection and maintenance of trees and forests in the community.

Professional Staff

Tree warden, City Arborist, City Forester or other individuals retained by the community (volunteer, salaried, contract) who are regularly and routinely involved with the planting, protection and maintenance of urban and community trees having one or more of the following, degrees or certifications:

Intent:
Professional staff members have education, training and experience in the fields of urban forestry, arboriculture, and/or horticulture. These requirements are intended to ensure that the person with the primary responsibility for program management has the training and experience to properly and professionally manage the urban forest resource and advance the community's UCF program.
Definition:
Individuals who have one or more of the following credentials, and who the community directly employs or retains through written agreement to advise and/or assist in the development or management of their urban and community forestry program:
  1. a degree in urban forestry or a closely related field (e.g., forestry, horticulture, arboriculture, etc.), and/or;
  2. International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist (ISA) or equivalent professional certification.
For example:
  1. The city arborist or city urban forester who is employed full- or part-time and responsible for the planting, protection and maintenance of a city's trees and forests.
  2. A public works or parks employee who is an ISA Certified Arborist and who supervises the town's tree crews responsible for the pruning, maintenance and removal of public trees.
  3. A credentialed, locally-based resource professional that provides urban forestry and arboricultural consultation services throughout the year to the community through a written Memorandum of Understanding. (Note: State UCF program staff who provide advice to communities does not meet the intent of this section.)
  4. Any person that is an ISA Certified Arborist, American Society of Consulting Arborists Registered Arborist or equivalent that is retained to provide urban forestry and arboricultural consultation services by a city or town through a written agreement.

Tree Inventory/Resource Assessment

A tree inventory/resource assessment is a document, set of documents, or database based on the systematic gathering and management of data about individual trees or groups of trees in the community that provide specific, standardized information, such as condition, size, species and location. Tree inventories/tree assessments often form the basis of an urban forest management or work plan and can take many forms ranging from complete surveys where data is collected on every tree by individuals operating on the ground to remote sensing methods (satellite) that collect data by ascertaining the composition of the urban canopy. A tree inventory can be complete, where every tree is surveyed, or partial, where trees in a specific area, such as trees on a main road, or a public park, are surveyed. For example:

  1. Individual data recorded on each tree in community neighborhoods, for example a unique tree number, DBH, height, branch spread, condition rating, hazard rating, etc.
  2. A study based on remotely-sensed data (GIS, aerial photography, etc.) that documents community tree cover and identifies current vegetative cover types and land uses. The study may include an analysis of the change in tree cover over time.
  3. Inventories conducted by in-house professional staff, trained volunteers, a consulting arborist, or any combination of these. This includes statistically-based sample inventories that do not require inspection of all trees in all cases, but still allows for the management of the community forest resource in a manner intended to improve its condition and extent.
  4. An analysis using a standard survey or statistically-based sampling tool that quantifies the environmental services provided by a community's forest.
  5. An inventory of parkland trees. The inventory may also include the data in example (a) above, and additional information on invasive plant species impacting the health of individual trees and forest stands.

Tree City USA® Accreditation

The TCUSA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation, the USDA Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters and is administered in Massachusetts by the DCR. This program provides participating communities with "direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition" for developing and maintaining urban and community forestry programs (National Arbor Day Foundation, http://www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA.cfm). To become TCUSA accredited, communities must satisfy the following four criteria:

Like the Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry program, Tree City USA accreditation was designed to encourage cities and towns to develop their urban and community forestry programs through community recognition and citizen participation.

Learn more about Tree City USA accreditation and the Arbor Day Foundation here. To apply for Tree City USA status, please visit the DCR website.


Updated Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP)

A community has provided an open space plan that guides the preservation, maintenance and improvement of a community’s natural resources that has been updated within the past five years. The term ‘open space’ refers to conservation land, parks, forests, agricultural land, buffers or any land owned by an agency or organization dedicated to conservation.

Go here [PDF] to learn more about plan requirements.


Percent Canopy Density

Percent of canopy density is the percentage of landmass that contains canopy cover from the 2001 National Land Cover Data (NLCD), which is provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on behalf of the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium. Note: Presently, NLCD data is based on 30meter resolution satellite imagery and as a rule undercounts community canopy cover percentages.

To learn more about the U.S. Geological Survey and the Land Cover Institutute go to http://landcover.usgs.gov/


Percent Impervious Surfaces

Percent of impervious surfaces is a measure of the percentage of landmass that contains imperious surfaces (e.g. buildings, roadways parking lots) and comes from the 2001 National Land Cover Data (NLCD), which is provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on behalf of the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium.

To learn more about the U.S. Geological Survey and the Land Cover Institutute go to http://landcover.usgs.gov/


Population

Population for each Massachusetts community based on US Census Bureau 2000 population data. Data is provided by the Massachusetts State Data Center Program of the UMass Donahue Institute's Economic and Public Policy Research Unit that works in partnership with the US Census Bureau.


Population Density

Population density for each Massachusetts community based on US Census Bureau 2000 population data. Population density is derived by dividing total community population by community land size in square miles. Data is provided by the Massachusetts State Data Center Program of the UMass Donahue Institute's Economic and Public Policy Research Unit that works in partnership with the US Census Bureau.


Percent of Families below Poverty Level in 2000

Percent of families for each Massachusetts community whose family income falls below the national poverty level based on US Census Bureau 2000 economic data. Data is provided by the Massachusetts State Data Center Program of the UMass Donahue Institute's Economic and Public Policy Research Unit that works in partnership with the US Census Bureau.


Per Capita Tree Budget

Per capita tree budget is measured in amount spent in dollars on the care of trees on a community. A community’s annual budget for urban forest management is divided by its resident population to reach this number. The per-capita tree budget information is the same as that reported in the application for Tree City USA certification.

Go here to learn more about the Tree City USA program.


UFORE

UFORE (Urban Forest Effects) is computer modeling software tool designed to help managers and researchers quantify urban forest structure, its function and value based on field, meteorological and pollution data.

Click here to learn more.

UFORE is part of the i-Tree peer-reviewed suite of urban & community forestry analysis tools, developed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, State and Private Forestry and other cooperators. Click here to learn more about UFORE and the other i-Tree suite of tools.


STRATUM

STRATUM (Street Tree Resource Analysis Tool for Urban Forest Managers) is a street tree management and analysis tool that utilizes tree inventory data to quantify their environmental and aesthetic benefits: energy conservation, air quality improvement, CO2 reduction, storm water management, property values.

Click here to learn more.

STRATUM is part of the i-Tree peer-reviewed suite of urban and community forestry analysis tools, developed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, State and Private Forestry and other cooperators. Click here to learn more about UFORE and the other i-Tree suite of tools.