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Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition History
In May 2004, the USDA Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry Program (UCF) served as a catalyst to select and bring a group of organizations and agencies together for a groundbreaking meeting. The goal was to create an environment where key national organizations and USDA Forest Service UCF Program agency representatives could achieve the following goals:
  • To share ideas and information about the present and future of urban and community forestry
  • To identify the differing niches filled by UCF organizations, and find in these differences strengths through which the programs and respective constituencies can benefit
  • To explore opportunities to engage in collaborative efforts by and between national organizations
  • To enhance the quality of life within urban areas while benefiting individual organizational efforts and UCF as a whole

The goal of the Savannah meeting was to identify, research, and implement national U&CF projects that have collective purpose and appeal. The U&CF program further hoped as a result of this process to eliminate duplication of efforts, increase efficiency, increase beneficial partnerships, and continue to enhance individual UCF organizational capacity. Ultimately the goal is to create a higher profile for UCF. Greater visibility will result in greater financial resources, increased support by elected officials, and the ability to build synergistic relationships with organizations and U&CF agencies. By accomplishing this, the coalition will support the strategic goals for local, state, regional, and national U&CF programs.

With these goals in mind, the group that met in Savannah decided that they wanted to keep a collective effort going. The National Tree Trust (NTT) offered to serve in the convening role and facilitate the group in continuing to organize itself. Four collaborative projects initiated in 2004 as a result of the Savannah meeting were successfully implemented.

Savannah Partner Meeting Notes 5/19/04 - 5/20/04

In February 2005, representatives of public, private, and not for profit national organizations involved in urban forestry met in Washington, DC with the intention of achieving five goals:
  • Determine the national Coalition’s premise—work to be achieved interdependently that individual organizations cannot achieve alone.
  • Identify Coalition member roles that will best serve the identified premise.
  • Identify the national Coalition’s goals and desired outcomes for 2005.
  • Determine what structure will best serve the Coalition’s premise.
  • Determine a communications system responsive to different levels of organizational interest and capacity.

Participants included the Alliance for Community Trees (ACT); American Forests; American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA); American Planning Association (APA); American Society of Landscape Architects; Davey Resource Group; International City/County Management Association (ICMA); International Society of Arboriculture (ISA); National Arbor Day Foundation (NADF); National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD); National Association of State Foresters (NASF); National Tree Trust (NTT); National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC); Society of American Foresters (SAF) UCF Working Group; Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA); TreeLink; US Conference of Mayors; USDA Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry Program; and the Utility Arborists Association (UAA).

The meeting participants voted to form a national coalition – the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition – to advance a unified urban forest agenda for our nation’s communities. The Coalition views urban forests as the aggregate of all vegetation and green spaces within communities that provide benefits vital to enriching the quality of life.

A five-person Interim Committee worked with the Coalition convener to implement the external projects and advance internal organizational and structural goals, and led SUFC in the following organizational activities:
  • Determined the Coalition’s governance structure;
  • Determined Coalition membership criteria and recruitment process;
  • Established the Coalition decision making process and ground rules;
  • Developed a SUFC logo (pro bono from the Davey Tree Expert Company);
  • Developed the Coalition’s unified national agenda;
  • Identified and staffed committees:

With the closure of the National Tree Trust, the ISA stepped in to serve as the convener host organization from 2006 forward. Michelle Harvey was the original convener and Jennifer Hinrichs succeeded her in 2007.

The Coalition held its second national meeting in January 2006, where it accomplished the following goals:
  • Strengthened the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition so it can better support urban forests and those who work with them
  • Reviewed and refined Coalition goals, strategies, structures, and procedures
  • Conducted substantial outreach efforts in the Washington, DC area
  • Selected 2006 leadership, and
  • Defined 2006 workplan elements