Change Happens… Be Ready For It

Risk Management

Fire, flooding, drought, climate change, pests and disease, and invasive species. The threats to your urban forest are many and diverse. However, there are five key principles to help you manage risk:

  • Know your urban forest resource: A forest inventory will determine the extent and condition of your urban forest. This becomes your baseline for planning and management.
  • Understand your human capital: Organize a network of experts, practitioners and volunteer organizations who can help determine the changes occurring in your urban forest, how best to respond, and mobilize people to implement your plans.
  • Manage your money: Scant budgets can impair day-to-day management of your urban forest. More importantly, it derails your ability to respond to risk. Budget realistically, and identify and [hopefully] secure funding from diverse sources to deal with current and emerging threats.
  • Establish a diverse and healthy forest: The nature and extent of risk changes depending on species selection, diversity, age and distribution. The wrong mix [or no mix at all] maximizes the harm done by any single agent. Spending money on improving forest health now can help protect against future risks and promote resilience.
  • Think locally: Broad principles are a starting point, but be sure to consider local risks [e.g. population change] and seek out the resources to address them.

Don’t Wait Until Disaster Happens

Disasters like Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Irma, and Maria often spawn a big response. Be bold, and be ready to help guide how your community prepares, responds, and recovers. Depending on the scale of the event, the urban forest might be considered a low priority – it shouldn’t be. Communities with arborists trained and certified in risk assessment can insure that debris removal contractors don’t truck away the bulk of your urban forests. And, of course, your forest management plan should include training in disaster response and recovery.

There’s Help if You Need it

The US Forest Service has supported, recruited, and trained arborists and foresters willing to serve on Urban Forestry Strike Teams. These volunteers can come to your community as advisers or to provide reinforcements if needed. Check the website to learn how it works.