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Resources, Ideas & Tree Boards

TREE BOARDS:  Citizens Working Together for a Healthier Community Forest 

A Town Tree Board or Committee is a citizen led group, that works with town public officials to improve health of the urban and community forest through tree plantings, advocacy, education, management and maintenance activities.

Why Have a Tree Board?

  • Advocate – for public tree and forest management, and support urban and community forestry.
  • Get Work Done – help with a tree inventory, an education campaign, a planting program or tree ordinance.
  • Bring in Additional Resources – help apply for grants, solicit private donations, organize fundraisers, and advocate for larger budgets.
  • Reduce Conflicts – help reduce potential conflicts by providing a forum for reviewing complaints, addressing safety issues, and making recommendations to the town.
  • Help Raise Public Awareness – educate residents about the importance of trees and urban forestry, and raise public awareness of the needs of trees and forests.
  • Improve your Urban and Community Forest – all these activities result in an improved urban and community forest for your city or town.

How Do Tree Boards Form?

Some Tree Boards may be part of a Landscape, Beautification or Planning Committee, but most arise as part of the Tree City USA program.  In larger communities, the Tree Board may be a part of a department responsible for tree care and arboriculture.  Having a separate committee is beneficial as it ensures that trees are addressed specifically, and not simply an add-on to other committee concerns. 

Most boards are advisory to the town, but some have additional authority as the town determines appropriate. A Tree Board structure, authority, duties and membership are established within an ordinance.

Examples of types of Tree Boards

  • In place of a department, in small communities, a board can coordinate contracts for tree maintenance and planting; visit sites and resident complaints; and manage a tree inventory.
  • As a volunteer action group, a board can plan and coordinate volunteer tree plantings, organize training workshops, educational programs, and fundraising.
  • As an advisory group to town staff, a board can research and recommend ordinance provisions for new or revised ordinances, develop tree species lists for public planting, develop a tree management plan and associated policy.
  • As an official committee, a board can act on behalf of the community to apply for state and national grants, start and manage a tree nursery, and help create parks in town.
  • Or any combination of the above that serves the needs of their community.

Tips for Successful Tree and Forest Boards

  • Try to build a board that is representative of the diversity of your community.
  • Look for members with some area of expertise (arborist, communications specialist, grant writer, etc.).  Make sure, in particular, to have some members with knowledge of trees, forestry and arboriculture.
  • Find members who are interested in working positively with all constituents, town commissions, and other public officials.
  • Start with some easily achievable and tangible projects.  Some tree boards have found that difficult projects (like writing a new tree ordinance or conducting a full inventory) often result in frustration and produce little to show for the effort.
  • Rotate your leadership and membership often.  This helps groups guard against “burn-out” and continually brings in new ideas.
  • Make sure that all members are committed to finding solutions, not just identifying problems.

Example Tree and Forest Committee Duties

  • Direct a survey or inventory of existing town trees and forest lands in order to improve understanding of the town’s forest resources.
  • Develop and recommend a Tree Management Plan.
  • Identify areas of town in need of additional beautification and plantings.
  • Develop and maintain a list of recommended species for planting on public spaces.
  • Seek and apply for grants to assist the town in its efforts to achieve its vision.
  • Promote public knowledge and awareness of the benefits of trees and forests.
  • Act, in an advisory capacity, on tree related issues with respect to development, re-development and management of public properties.

Improving Your Tree City USA
The following list can be used as a source of ideas to enhance your Tree City USA program.  Don’t limit yourself to the options listed here.  Creativity is encouraged.


  • School Arbor Day programs – essay, poem/poster contest, plays/skits, tree planting, etc.
  • Attend state community forestry conference offered by the NC Urban Forest Council.
  • Participate in tree care workshops.
  • Watch webinars offered by NC Urban Forest Council and other urban forestry groups.
  • Attend conference(s) such as those offered by the ACTrees, ISA, etc.
  • Tree recycling program.
  • Proper tree planting and/or workshops on proper tree care.
  • Publications.

Group/Community Activities

  • Representation at the Tree City USA Recognition ceremony.
  • Dedication of Tree City USA sign or flag.
  • Memorial tree plantings.
  • Involve local businesses: Marketing


  • News media – radio, TV, newspaper, public access stations, web sites.
  • Public meetings.
  • Community organizations.
  • Champion Tree program.
  • Youth programs (Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, YMCA, schools).
  • Utilize materials from the North Carolina Urban Forest Council.
  • Identify your TCUSA status in the NC League of Municipalities fall conference guide.


Links to organizations and information that may help managing your Tree City, Campus or Line USA

Helpful Organizations

Grant Information

Learning Tools

Tree City USA


This page updateTuesday, February 28, 2017 13:41->

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