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Getting started

The first step is knowing what you HAVE. What you HAVE will determine what you NEED. The lists below are there to help you start the process of a community inventory and to get a sense of who needs to be with you and what you need to complete a tree planting project.

This is a growing list. Please share any resources you find that are helpful with us, as they may help other communities as well.

Assessing Opportunity
The City of Carbondale has prepared a sustainability plan, and that plan includes an analysis of the city's tree canopy as part of its nature-based solutions approach to  mitigating and adapting to climate change. See page 16 of this plan.

This list of opportunities for tree plantings can help you assess what is right for your community, and what connections, relationships, and land area you have to get to work.

Mapping tools
There are a variety of tools you can use to understand and evaluate tree canopy in your community. Here are some of our favorites:

American Forests' Tree equity score is a free tool you can use to evaluate tree canopy by census block group. It was created to help address damaging environmental inequities by prioritizing human-centered investment in areas with the greatest need.

The Climate Vulnerability Map can help you see the challenges your community faces from the impacts of a changing climate. This tool shows what is driving those challenges, so policymakers and communities can take action to build climate resilience where it is needed most.

AI Tree-Driven Data can cost about $2500, but it will help you map and analyze your  urban tree canopy data so you can spend more time on planning, management, operations, and community engagement tasks.

Environmental Insights Explorer (tree canopy)is a freely available data and insights tool that uses exclusive data sources and modeling capabilities that can help cities and regions measure and identify strategies so reduce emissions. 

I-Tree Canopy is a tool that can classify land and tree cover across a given area using random sampling of aerial imagery. Take a look at tree canopy benefits in terms of carbon dioxideair pollution, and stormwater impacts.

Tree Preservation Ordinances
An effective tree preservation ordinance is one that is based on an urban forest management plan. However, many governmental entities do not have a plan in place, and some grants will require you to adopt one. We've provided some sample ordinances and templates you can use to create your own.

Chicago Region Tree Initiative  has provided a three-tiered ordinance structure that allows your governmental entity a point to become engaged and opportunities to move to a higher level of ordinance as your time and resources permit.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources highlights two examples of what they consider to be excellent ordinances.  They are:

This is another good resource for understanding the care and protection of trees Illinois Department of Resources, Technical Resources, Trees

Plant Lists

Coming soon ...

Creating an Urban Forest
The Miyawaki Method is one of the most effective tree planting methods for creating forest cover quickly on degraded land that has been used for other purposes such as agriculture or construction. It is effective because it is based on natural reforestation principles, i.e. using trees native to the area and replicating natural forest regeneration processes. The trees planted by this method grow much faster, jump starting the forest creation process and capturing more carbon. Higher biodiversity has been recorded in Miyawaki forests than in neighboring woodlands, so it’s an ideal method for creating diverse forest ecosystems quickly.

Training and Jobs
American Forests Tree Equity and Career Pathways
According to American Forests, urban forestry is experiencing a substantial labor shortage. This creates opportunity for overlooked populations like the unemployed or underemployed communities of color.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022:
• The U.S. annual wage for entry-level tree trimmers and pruners is $49,820.
• The median hourly wage for entry-level tree trimmers and pruners is $23.95

American Forest's pre-arboriculture curriculum is designed for those who face barriers to traditional employment, have little-to-no knowledge or experience in arboriculture and people living in low income areas. Any entity, including nonprofits, academic institutions and municipalities interested in preparing people for careers in arboriculture can deliver this training.

Illinois Arborist Association
The Illinois Arborist association offers job training and employment opportunities. Click here to learn more and to apply for available jobs