Guidelines for Developing and Evaluating Tree Ordinances


Step C. Identify needs.

With information on the status of their tree resources and tree management in hand, a community is in a good position to assess its urban forestry needs. Urban forestry needs can be grouped into three broad categories, although many needs may actually fall into more than one category. Biological needs are those that are related to the tree resource itself. Typical needs in this category include the need to: Management needs refer to the needs of those involved with the short- and long-term care and maintenance of the urban forest. Some common management needs include: Community needs are those that relate to how the public perceives and interacts with the urban forest and the local urban forest management program. Examples of community needs include: The needs listed above are common to many communities. However, the specific needs of each community will vary, and may include others not noted here.

Step D. Establish goals.

Now that we know what we have and what we need, we are ready to set goals to address local urban forestry needs and to guide the formation of the management strategy. To establish realistic goals, it's important to consider limitations posed by the level of community support, economic realities, and environmental constraints. Because of limited resources, communities may be unable to immediately address all of the needs identified. If this is the case, it will be necessary to prioritize goals. In setting priorities, it is important not to neglect goals that require a long-term approach in favor of those that can be achieved quickly.

At this point in the process, it is absolutely critical to get community involvement and support. Most tree ordinances rely heavily on voluntary compliance by the public. Such compliance is only likely to be achieved if members of the community support the goals which have been set. Management goals reached through public involvement are likely to reflect community values and therefore enjoy public support. Public participation in the goal-setting process also serves an educational function, providing an opportunity for citizens to see how urban forest management affects their community.

Goals are the tangible ends that the management strategy seeks to achieve. It is therefore important to set goals which are quantifiable in some way, so that progress toward the goals can be monitored. For example, while it is admirable to seek to "improve the quality of life" or "protect the health and welfare of the community", such goals are generally too diffuse to be measured in any meaningful way. However a goal such as "establish maximum tree cover" can be made quantifiable by setting canopy cover or tree density standards. Typical tree program goals which are consistent with good urban forest management are discussed in more detail on the Ordinance Goals page.