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Contemporary Issues in Urban Forest Management: #3 Laws, Regulations and Ordinances

It often appears that the easiest way to solve an urban forestry problem is by writing a regulation or ordinance. But, that is not always the case. The fixed and static nature of ordinances can make them very difficult to apply to complex living systems. Managers invariably undertake actions that simplify the urban forest just to meet the letter of the ordinance. The result is the loss of biological diversity, which undermines the production of numerous ecoservices.  This problem should not be under estimated.

When proper management cannot be met by enhanced education and/or technical assistance, legal intervention may be the only option.  Guiding principles for successful urban forest ordinances were developed by the USDA Forest Service – Southern Region. These guiding principles provide a logical framework for the development of urban forest ordinances.

10 Guiding Principles for Successful Ordinances    Ed Macie, USDA Forest Service
  1. Clearly state the purpose and  intended outcomes.
  2. Acknowledge the complicated biology of trees and forests.
  3. Support innovation and creativity in meeting the intended outcomes.
  4. Initiate tree and woodland protection at the onset of construction planning.
  5. Management standards should be based on nationally accepted urban forestry and arboricultural standards.
  6. Provide technical support to citizens.
  7. Integrate the actions of all government agencies that influence construction in the city.
  8. Inclusive – The development of the ordinance and all of its provisions should be inclusive of the interests of all of the citizens.
  9. Professional – Development and implementation of the ordinance should be delivered with clear, objective professionalism.