Community Forest Planning

As urbanized areas of the state grow, trees are an essential component of vibrant communities, providing balance to the built environment and improving the quality of life for residents and visitors.

Planning for a Growing Population

Virginia’s landscape is transforming at a rapid rate to accommodate our burgeoning population. This growth is increasing urbanization and development across Virginia, negatively affecting forestland. Urban sprawl fragments forests and negatively impacts the ecological health and aesthetic quality of Virginia’s communities.

Rapid urbanization in Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, and Central Virginia has resulted in a substantial conversion of rural forestland to other developed uses. Urban sprawl has not only contributed to costly transportation problems in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, it has resulted in changing land-use patterns, increasing fragmentation, and changes in land-use values that have threatened traditional forestry practices that were once vibrant in this area.

Virginia’s growing population also negatively affects already urbanized areas. Development pressures, such as housing, roads, and utility expansions, contribute to continued fragmentation and forest canopy loss. With canopy loss comes reduced urban ecosystem functions, such as higher summer temperatures, poorer air quality, and the reduced natural systems for stormwater management, also occur.

Poor models for land development result in degraded forest ecosystems that cannot provide long-term benefits. Adequate amounts of open green space need to be conserved, managed, and protected in communities.

What We Can Do

To maximize the economic, social, and environmental benefits of community forests, cities need to be planned with natural systems as a core infrastructure feature, instead of an afterthought. Urban and community forestry systems are an integral component at all system levels: neighborhood, local, community, regional, and watershed. Integrating natural systems and community forests into all scales of city, regional, and state planning efforts – as well as other city systems, such as transportation, housing, and infrastructure – will maximize effectiveness and benefits.

The Urban and Community Forestry program may have financial assistance to help with planning for urban and community forests.


Additional Resources

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Community Forest Planning: Storm Mitigation Guide for Virginia Communities Template
Community Forest Planning: Storm Mitigation Guide for Virginia Communities TemplateP00214T

Workbook and the accompanying template are intended as tools for Virginia communities to use in assessing their community forest storm readiness, mitigating tree risk and reducing tree-related storm damage, and developing a community forest storm mitigation plan. Available in Word template form with form fields that can be filled in – unprotect the form to change the template to meet your needs. Printed copies available.

, Viewurban-and-community-forestrypublication template
Community Forest Planning: Storm Mitigation Guide for Virginia Communities Workbook
Community Forest Planning: Storm Mitigation Guide for Virginia Communities WorkbookP00214

Workbook and the accompanying template are intended as tools for Virginia communities to use in assessing their community forest storm readiness, mitigating tree risk and reducing tree-related storm damage, and developing a community forest storm mitigation plan. Printed copies available.

Viewurban-and-community-forestrypublication

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