Somerville Publishes City’s First Urban Forest Management Plan

Plan provides roadmap to preserve and expand Somerville’s tree canopy, maximizing benefits for community and climate

SOMERVILLE, MA – After years of data collection, research, and community engagement, the City of Somerville published its first comprehensive Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) to guide the next decade of urban forestry planning and policymaking.

The UFMP establishes a vision and an action plan to preserve and expand Somerville’s urban forest. An urban forest is considered all trees within a municipality. The UFMP discusses the findings of the City’s most recent public tree inventory, sets goals for the next five to ten years, and provides recommendations on how to achieve them. It also details how to prepare for storms, manage invasive insects and diseases, optimize operations and policies, increase urban forestry funding, and expand public participation.

Trees enhance nearly every aspect of city life. They moderate extreme temperatures, improve air quality, mitigate stormwater runoff, calm traffic, increase property values and retail sales, and provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, among countless other environmental, economic, and public health benefits. Since Somerville is a densely populated city with challenging growing conditions, a strategic plan is vital to managing the local tree canopy effectively. The UFMP provides the framework to maximize the benefits of Somerville’s urban forest for years to come.

“Trees are an invaluable resource for our community and our climate. Here in Somerville, we have long invested in improving our urban forest, but as always, we must be strategic and data-driven in charting a path forward,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “This plan gives us the foundation we need to be deliberate in our approach and consistent in our action.”

This UFMP builds on previous work and recommendations in Somerville’s Open Space and Recreation Plan (2016-2023), as well as the climate change mitigation plan Somerville Climate Forward (2018) and the City’s comprehensive plan SomerVision 2040. All three called for the creation of an Urban Forest Management Plan to guide efforts to increase the city’s tree canopy.

“We are thrilled to have completed this important plan, which has been a focus of the Public Space and Urban Forestry team for the last two years,” said Luisa Oliveira, Director of Public Space and Urban Forestry. “It provides the data for making decisions and guides our future tree policies and practices. It reflects the high caliber of urban forestry expertise we have cultivated in the City of Somerville and the passion for trees our residents share.”

“Extreme weather events like those we’ve experienced this year really highlight the importance of having a healthy urban forest,” said Dr. Vanessa Boukili, Senior Urban Forestry and Landscape Planner. “I am proud to have been a part of creating a plan that not only provides details about our current tree canopy but also presents a multifaceted approach for growing our tree canopy in a safe and equitable way.”

This UFMP was developed by the Public Space and Urban Forestry Division, with assistance from its consultant, Davey Resource Group, as well as input from various City departments, the Urban Forestry Committee, and numerous community members. The City received an Urban and Community Forestry Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to fund the development of this UFMP.

Read the full plan at somervillema.gov/urbanforestry.

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