Portland Urban Forestry Program Earns Global Recognition

News Article
Four youth show off their muddy shoes in front of the tree they just planted.
Portland's volunteers put in more hours (over 7000) than any other US city! Urban Forestry is not the only one that noticed your hard work. The Arbor Day Foundation has awarded Portland its 44th Tree City USA Award, 24th Growth Award, and 2nd Tree Cities of the World Award.
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Portland Arbor Day 2019 East Holladay Park Tree Planting
Portland Arbor Day 2019 East Holladay Park Tree Planting

The City of Portland has received recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA, a Tree City of the World, and the Tree City USA Growth Award in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management. 

Trees are an important public asset in urban environments, serving as a buffer between our transportation corridors and our homes while providing multiple economic, environmental, and social benefits such as cleaner air and water, cooler summer temperatures, and safer streets.

These essential services continue to increase over the lifetime of the tree, making their planting and maintenance one of the best investments a city and its residents can make.

Tree Cities of the World - 2 Years

A person ties down a potted tree to a bike trailer as they prepare to take it home.

Portland's volunteers dedicated the most hours of any city in the US and are globally second to Hillingdon, UK. Check out what other cities are doing.

The Tree Cities of the World program is a partnership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Arbor Day Foundation, launched in 2019. Its vision is to connect cities around the world in a new network dedicated to adopting the most successful approaches to managing urban trees and forests. 

Portland was one of 120 cities from 63 global countries to receive this recognition - joining a network of like-minded cities who recognize the importance of trees in building healthy, resilient and happy cities.

Tree Cities of the World aims to create more green spaces in urban areas by recognizing the cities that do it well. Planting more trees is the quickest and easiest way to improve a city's tree canopy and invest in a brighter future.

Tree City USA - 44 Years

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.

Portland achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements:

  • A tree board or department - Portland has both! 
    • Portland Parks & Recreation's Urban Forestry Division manages its urban forest infrastructure.
    • The Urban Forestry Commission is an 11-member volunteer committee that advise the City Forester, Parks Director, Commissioner in Charge of Parks, and City Council.
  • A tree-care ordinance - we call it Title 11 - Tree Code.
    • A strong set of protections and regulations helps to ensure a strong and healthy urban forest for future generations. 
  • An annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita - Portlands total was just over $12 per capita!
    • What gets counted? Tree planting and care, maintenance of existing trees, removal of trees (trees can become hazards in an urban area), public education, and many other tree care and management services. 
  • An Arbor Day observance and proclamation - does planting trees count? Of course!
    • Portland celebrated Arbor Day last year with community members who volunteered to help plant new trees at East Holladay Park - check out photos from the event online.

Arbor Day Storymap by the Oregon Department of Forestry:

A banner for the Oregon Department of Forestry TCUSA community storymap.

Oregon Arbor Month is proclaimed for the first time in 2021. 

To mark the occasion, the Oregon Department of Forestry asked the state’s 69 Tree City USA communities to send us a photo capturing the city’s Tree City USA spirit. 

Check out the full map here.

Growth Award - 24 Years

This bar graph shows the number and level of certifications among Urban Forestry staff.
PP&R Urban Forestry Staff Credentials

The Tree City USA Growth Award is presented by the Arbor Day Foundation to participating Tree City USA communities that demonstrate higher levels of tree care and community engagement.

This achievement was in recognition of the Municipal Forestry Department Accreditation from The Society of Municipal Arborists Portland had earned the prior year. With it's own set of standards and requirements, this accreditation reflects decades of work to protect, preserve, and promote the shared urban forest.

A Tree City USA community that earns ten Growth Awards is recognized as a Sterling Tree City USA.

"A Sterling Tree City USA is regarded as a leader in community forestry and is often looked upon as an innovator." - The Arbor Day Foundation

Close-up image of the cone of a Douglas-fir tree.

Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry's mission is to manage and ensure Portland's urban forest infrastructure for current and future generations.

Portland’s urban forest consists of 236,000 street trees, 1.2 million park trees, and innumerable private property trees. Urban Forestry is involved in managing or regulating all of these trees to differing degrees.

Urban Forestry staff issue permits for planting, pruning, and removal of all public and some private trees and are on call 24/7 to respond to tree emergencies.

For more information on Urban Forestry - www.portland.gov/trees