17 November 2020

I have recently been involved in a series of webinars, in association with the Davey Resource Group, themed around ‘Planning the Urban Forest’.  These webinars have been such a great way to engage with people and, being quite new to these types of platforms, I was impressed by features such as the chat function, which allowed attendees to ask questions throughout the session, and have these answered either during the presentation, or as part of a Q&A session at the end.

In particular though, I found the results of the interactive polls, which can be run in real time alongside the presentation, really interesting.  Although the sample size was modest (around 130- 180 attendees), I thought the results would be worth sharing, to see if they matched any of your own experiences.

The first webinar looked at Urban Forest Master Plans.  As this is a relatively new concept in the UK, we also asked questions about Tree Strategies.  What really struck me was that although 41% of respondents did indeed have a Tree Strategy, only 8% of them contained any sort of community vision or goal setting for where the strategy should take them.

50% of respondents stated that urban forestry goals are set purely by internal review and process.  Yet, with around 60-70% of the urban forest being in private ownership and with the community being its largest stakeholder and beneficiary, is this really the best approach?  A further 22% responded to say that they do not have any stated goals, with the remainder answering that goals are set as a quick, panic response to political issues.

In reality, when done properly, a Tree Strategy or Urban Forest Master Plan should:

Have a vision, specific goals, and an action plan.  Primarily, a strategy should be a plan to get you where you want to be – a vision – but, if there is no vision, or indeed goals to aim for, and if there is no action plan to get you there, then the whole strategy becomes impotent and meaningless.

Involve the community.  Experiences from around the globe show that if you want a successful urban forest programme, you need to involve its largest stakeholder group (the community) right from the outset.

For more information about Urban Forest Master Plans and Tree Strategies, please see our webinar recording ‘Webinar 1: Sustainable Management of the Urban Forest’.