Gray, Gerald J. Forest Policy Center, American Forests, Washington, DC.
Moll, Gary A. Urban and Community Forestry, American Forestry Association, Washington, DC.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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The planning and implementation of actions to establish, protect, restore and maintain trees and forests in cities and smaller communities. When it began in the 1960s, the field of urban forestry focused on individual trees along streets and adjacent to homes and buildings and on groups of trees in specific spatial areas such as parks. Since then, it has evolved toward more holistic consideration of the structure, processes and functions of urban ecosystems at a larger scale. Scientists have come to realize that trees and forests play a critical role in maintaining healthy urban ecosystems, providing ecological services such as filtering water and air pollution, reducing stormwater flows, sequestering carbon emissions, conserving energy and reducing soil erosion, as well as providing human health benefits, recreation, esthetics and fish and wildlife habitat. These ecological services can be translated into economic values worth billions of dollars by comparing them to the costs of achieving the same benefits with technology and human-made infrastructure. Urban trees, forests and related vegetation are often referred to as green infrastructure in order to compare and contrast them with human-made or hard infrastructure, such as buildings and roads. See also: Ecological communities; Ecological succession
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