How to Fund Your Urban Forestry Program

Best practices for sourcing, scoping, and securing urban forestry funding.


Urban forests are an essential component of the community infrastructure. You know it. I know it. However, the budgets afforded to urban forestry programs do not always represent this “essential” status and urban forest managers often need to work with budgets below their needs. This guide contains best practices and accompanying examples for overcoming budgetary challenges to run a successful program, broken down into three chapters: Source, Scope, and Secure. 


The general fund has long been the core of urban forestry funding, but is beholden to many other community needs and is often stretched thin. The best strategy for overcoming the limitations of the general fund is to leverage a variety of sources, both public and private.

This guide goes through the wide array of urban forestry funding sources out there, including grants, tax and fee opportunities, special district designations, carbon credit trading, wood waste utilization, and more.


When planning your urban forestry funding it is helpful to strategize which sources can be used where and if there are gaps can be addressed through increased general funding or require adding new sources. For example, are the possibilities to pair grant funds with large, singular projects such as tree inventories and urban tree canopy assessments.


With funding ideas sourced and scoped, all that is left is to secure those resources with a persuasive pitch. This section has tips to guide your pitch preparation including: mainstreaming urban forestry by referencing goals in comprehensive and climate plans, and using benchmarking research to find comparable communities on a per capita or per tree capita basis.


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How to Fund Your Urban Forestry Program

Download Free eBook: How to Fund Your Urban Forestry Program

The average U.S. urban forestry program budget is 0.52% of the municipal budget, which equates to $42 per street tree and $8.76 per capita. How does your program funding stack up?

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