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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Urban Forest in fall

Division of Forestry
Urban and Community Forestry Program

What is Urban Forestry?

At first, the term "urban forestry" may seem confusing. Most people think that forests are just hundreds of acres of woodland in rural areas. However, more than one-half of Kentuckians live in an urban setting and they are surrounded by an urban forest. Urban trees are those in an individual's yard, lining city streets, in a local park and along greenspace areas in and around cities. They provide a great deal of benefit to the urban landscape.

Urban forests are a valuable asset to the Commonwealth and they should be managed for their economic, environmental and social benefits. Proper management can be obtained through a comprehensive urban forestry program that includes citizen support and a properly trained work force.

The economic benefits that urban forests provide include:

  • attracting tourists and businesses by creating an inviting place to stay.
  • increasing the property value of homes and industrial properties; most people would choose a nicely shaded lot over a bare one.
  • reducing the amount of electricity needed to heat and air-condition homes and businesses.

The environmental benefits that urban forests provide include:

  • providing food and habitat for wildlife.
  • absorbing carbon dioxide, replenishing oxygen in the atmosphere and decreasing the "heat island" effect. Heat islands are created by the combination of paved surfaces, lack of shade and heat retention of buildings and other structures. 
  • helping our urban streams by reducing stream sedimentation through erosion, decreasing stormwater runoff and lowering the air temperature through shade.

The social benefits that urban forests provide include:

  • adding character and pride to communities.
  • creating feelings of relaxation and well-being.
  • promoting a sense of community ownership.
  • providing privacy, absorbing noise and screening harsh scenery.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry provides urban forestry technical assistance to municipalities, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and private landowners. The focus of the urban forestry program is to help communities develop long-term, self-sustaining urban forestry programs. One way this is being achieved is through the Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program.  The division also assists with tree board formation and support, the development of tree ordinances, Arbor Day planning and Tree City USA applications.  For more information about what your community can do to develop or improve its urban forestry program, contact Sarah Gracey, urban forestry coordinator or Peter Barber, urban partnership coordinator.

Tree Line Newsletter:

The division's bi-monthly newsletter "Tree Line" features current events, grant opportunities and timely information about Kentucky's urban forestry program.  To view or download Kentucky's Tree Line Newsletter, please link to the Forestry Publications page and select from the list of Urban and Community Forestry Information.   

Additional Urban Forestry links: