What Communities can do

Small or large, any action a community takes to increase tree canopy cover and protect mature trees will improve the quality of life for residents in many ways. Below are a few suggestions for how your community can act today for a greener tomorrow.

Become a Tree City USA

The national Arbor Day Foundation recognizes thirty-one of our region’s local jurisdictions as a Tree City USA. These communities meet the four core standards of sound urban forestry management by having a Tree Board or ISA Certified Arborist on staff, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2.00 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. Learn more about Tree City USA. 

Plant Street and Park Trees

Planting trees in parks and on streets and other public properties is a smart investment if done right, which means selecting the right species, planting properly and providing care while the trees get established. This factsheet will give you more information on proper planting techniques.

The many benefits provided annually by street and park trees — such as improving public health, increasing property values, cleaning the air and strengthening neighborhoods — are well documented. Learn about more neighborhood benefits. (PDF)

Integrate Trees into Stormwater Management Strategies

Trees have a remarkable ability to dramatically reduce stormwater runoff and its damaging impacts in our communities. Trees do this by absorbing rainfall through their extensive root systems, improving the infiltration and water retention in the soil, and holding water in their canopies (which reduces peak flows and the velocity of stormwater runoff).

Here is an excellent guide on the “why” and “how” to integrate trees into urban stormwater management strategies (including suggestions for making the case for trees and also including best practices for incorporating trees into stormwater facility design regulations and policies).

Establish a Tree Board or Committee

A Tree Board or Committee helps ensure that a community has an on-going and official tree program that reflects its residents’ needs. To start a tree board in your community, a request can be made to the mayor and/or council to recognize a community tree commission and charge it with duties such as organizing an Arbor Day event, educating residents about tree planting and care, developing a community tree care plan, drafting a tree care ordinance, and/or advising the city about tree issues during public improvement projects and land development. Learn more about how to develop and administer a community tree program. (PDF)

For an example of what a tree board does and its mission, visit the Boone County, KY Urban Forestry Commission’s website. 

Incentivize Tree Planting

Three strategies used by local communities to increase tree planting are cost-sharing, offering of wholesale-pricing and commemorative tree programs. Here are examples:

Local cost-sharing programs

Forest Park (OH) Reforestation Program provides a 75% subsidy for 100 trees/year to residents who submit an order form, pay remaining cost and plant the tree.

Fort Thomas (KY) Tree Commission pays part of the cost of trees planted in front yards outside public right-of-way and takes responsibility for tree purchase and planting.

Hamilton (OH) covers $50 of the cost of a requested street tree for which the city arborist insures its suitability, location and planting process.

Montgomery (OH) provides a street tree to property owners that co-pay $100. The city holds requests for future consideration if they exceed the annual budget.

Springdale (OH) pays for resident-requested street trees. 

Wholesale-pricing to Citizens

An example of the offering of wholesale-pricing to citizens through special arrangements with local nurseries is Glendale (OH) has arranged discount pricing for tree purchases and planting for their Tree Canopy program.

Local Commemorative Tree Programs

Adopt Ordinances for Tree Protection and Landscaping

A tree ordinance establishes standards, sets guidelines and provides solid examples of how a local government and its citizens should manage the trees under their control. An ordinance is the legal framework within which local tree management activities are conducted so as to enhance and protect the urban forest for its many benefits to the public welfare. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources provides templates and other resources for ordinance development at

Examples of local ordinances include:

Keep the Trees You Have

It makes sense to protect and care for trees on public property, regardless of whether the trees are young or old, since it’s healthy and mature trees that provide the greatest benefits to the community and environment and the highest return on investment. To better maintain what you have, communities need information about their public trees and access to the professional expertise of a Certified Arborist who can help determine what is needed to keep trees healthy and safe.

Tree Inventory Resources

A community tree inventory provides information on the condition of public trees and a basis for data-driven management for their care or for developing an urban forest management plan. The inventory can focus on only identifying trees at risk (to be removed or pruned for public safety) or be more broad-based to assist with budgeting and bidding for tree work, decisions on new plantings (need for species diversity), guidance for tree-care professionals on work needed, and/or development of a management plan.

Another means of maintaining more trees within communities is to reduce the removals and damage that can occur from land development projects and construction practices.

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