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Urban Forestry FAQs

If your question isn't answered here, don't hesitate to contact Mike Larock, RPF.

What is urban forestry?

Urban forestry is a broad term that applies to trees and forests in the urban environment. An urban forest can be a park, like Stanley Park. It can require specialist service, such as advice or direction of a forest professional who would be engaged in the practice of professional forestry.

Are there specific examples when urban forest professionals are needed?

Yes, in interface areas between rural/urban areas and managed forest (see examples below).

Example 1: Forest professionals were called upon to lead the safe rehabilitation and regeneration of Stanley Park windstorm 2006. The forest professional will look at the potential effects of wind on forests across the urban landscape and prescribe pruning treatments. They would not normally be expected to prune the trees or plan the location of streets.

Example 2: Developers engage forest professionals for fire hazard analysis and assessment in west Kelowna in 2015. The forest professional will measure and evaluate the fire hazard of adjacent urban interface forests during the construction development process in a new subdivision. The Fire Hazard Assessment follows guidance produced by the ABCFP and is a specialized area of practice in the urban forest interface.

Example 3: A municipal government hires a forest professional to identify laminated root rot (Phellinus sulphurascens) disease centers in an urban forest that contains multiple recreational uses. The forest professional will be able identify forest health issues related to fungal pathogens and insect activity in the urban forest and develop a range of strategies to meet multiple management goals. The forest professional will be able to clarify management strategies to local government and the community. The forest professional is also able to assess the potential impacts of Douglas-fir beetle (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae) activity associated with poor stand health. The forest professional produces a management plan for the site and is retained to complete periodic site examinations to update the management plan.

Where urban forest professionals in BC are employed

  • Local government (municipalities, regional districts)
  • The arboricultural industry
  • Consulting companies
  • Working for municipalities
  • Private citizens or groups
  • Development industry
  • Government agencies
  • NGOs
  • Insurance agencies
  • Legal firms
  • Provincial government agencies
  • Conservation authorities, or other quasi-governmental, watershed-based conservation agencies
  • Educational institutions
  • Research facilities
  • Independent utility corporations
  • Not-for-profit organizations

I work in a job that is within the forests and trees of the city. Do I need to join the association?

Not necessarily. The practice of professional forestry is specific to the knowledge and skill necessary to manage the urban forest. The tasks that fall within this category are defined in the Professional Governance Act under the practice of professional forestry. You may find that a forest professional is required to provide you with some direction or advice or to form part of your collaborative team.

If my employer does not require me to have a professional designation, am I required joining the ABCFP?

It depends on the tasks that you would be undertaking. If the task is the practice of professional forestry, then that task is required to be done by a registered professional.

Additionally, there are other benefits of belonging to the ABCFP, such as accessing professional development that can ensure you maintain the science knowledge that is the foundation of your practice, liaising with like-minded professionals engaged in similar work, using the certification to establish credibility with the citizens you serve, learning about management options, and methods that can benefit your employer.                                                 

What education, certification or background is necessary to practice professional forestry in the area of urban forestry?

To be qualified to practice professional forestry in BC one needs to be registered with the ABCFP and have the expertise to practice in this area. Typically, forest professionals have a degree or diploma in forestry or a related science and demonstrate their competence to practice independently to the professional body in BC.

The profession is made up of all forest professionals to ensure that competent core knowledge is applied in the public interest. Visit the Become a Registrant Overview&hkey=20a15903-3ad3-4c83-b299-00893d28d559" target="_self">Become a Forest Professional section for more information.

I am interested in a career in urban forestry. Where do I find the necessary educational programs?

The bachelor of urban forestry degree program at University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Forestry started in 2015. It offers a program of concentrated study specific to urban forestry. The diploma in forests and natural areas management from the BC Institute of Technology (BCIT) prepares a forest technologist for work in urban forestry.

Where do I find the urban forest?

Trees, forests, greenspace and related abiotic, biotic, and cultural components in and around cities and communities. The urban forest includes trees, forest cover, and related components in the surrounding rural areas (peri-urban forests). They occur in parks, along streets, wildland urban interface areas, and in back yards.

Where do I find information about urban forestry?

There are many great sources of information about urban forestry, urban forest management plans, municipality’s initiatives, education programs. Refer back to the Urban Forestry page for more information and external links.

Why is the significance of urban forestry increasing?

Urban forestry is increasing in its significance for several reasons. Key among these reasons is the increasing urbanization of global societies, increasing populations and a corresponding social desire for green space, the efforts to adapt to climate change impacts, and the rise of a diverse forestry sector.

Do any communities have successful involvement in urban forestry?

Yes, there are many communities that have volunteer work and community participation in bettering the urban forest. This is an area of rapid community involvement. For example, the Tree Team in Surrey. 

Why is urban forestry important to the public?

Trees and areas of natural environment within the urban setting are important components of a healthy town and contribute to the well-being of the citizens. The trees and natural environment have environmental and economic benefits for the people who live among them. The pace of development is one reason why citizens feel that a plan for the urban forest is essential.

How can a member of the public be involved in activities related to urban forestry?

Cities and towns have numerous programs initiated by staff and volunteers that can help get citizens involved in urban forestry. For example, participating in activities during National Forest Week – tree planting, initiate activities in communities, participate in public open houses.

To treat trees on private property (backyard) who do I need to hire – an arborist or a forest professional?

A forest professional has expertise about forests, components of forests (trees, shrubs, soil, water, bugs, fungus, wind) and social benefits derived from forests. The forest professional brings together the right professionals, integrates the science and social values to ensure a satisfactory result is achieved.

A certified arborist is specialized in evaluating individual tree and individual tree treatments. Arborists are specialists concerned with treatments necessary for the maintenance and establishment of trees. Many municipalities are learning about the values of engaging a forester to assist with the management of their city green spaces. Municipal bylaws often state the requirements for pruning.

Where can teachers find info for forestry lessons?

There are resources available online for teachers to access the appropriate knowledge for various age groups. For example, the Educational Resources page of the website.

Corporations and local governments often make their staff available to assist in a volunteer capacity. For example, Environment School Programs in Surrey and the Alberni District Secondary School Project-Based Learning Program.