UFEI Publications

Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute at Cal Poly

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UFEI Publications

State of Urban and Community Forestry in California. By Richard P. Thompson and Jeffrey L. Reimer (Oct 2018) Tech Report 15

pdfState of Urban and Community Forestry in California - 2016


Comprised of a complex mix of urbanized wildlands and introduced forests, California's urban forests are facing serious challenges with a human population greater than Canada’s, unique and varied environments, and significant forest health threats. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has been at the forefront of raising public awareness of these issues and supporting communities to protect and
expand their urban forests.

State of Urban and Community Forestry in California. By Richard P. Thompson (July 2006) Tech Report 13

pdfState of Urban and Community Forestry in California - 2003

State of Urban and Community Forestry in California

pdfState of Urban and Community Forestry in California - 1997
pdfState of Urban Forestry in California - 1992


Tree and vegetation management in the urban and urban-interface communities create issues of growing importance in an increasingly urbanized state such as California. Communities recognize urban forest resource sustainability, maintenance and enhancement of forested aesthetics as an important value. They support these areas with tax dollars, local government agency involvement (usually Parks and Recreation or Public Works departments), and with efforts in many cases by both individuals and volunteer organizations in management and planning.

This report on the status and trends in U&CF is organized into three main sections: 1) trees in the urban forest, 2) the local agency funding, staffing, and management practices, and 3) community group support, involvement, and planning. Each topic in these sections was analyzed for trend information across all three surveys, therefore many of the figures may convey considerable information. We have attempted to provide some interpretation on what seemed to be the larger messages but more are possible.

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A Comparison of California Forest Practice Rules and Two Forest Certification Systems by Christopher A. Dicus, and Kenneth Delfino (April 2003) - Tech Report 10

pdfA Comparison of CA Forest Practice Rules and Two Certification Systems


California's private forestlands are afforded some of the most extensive legal protection in the world. Multiple layers of federal, state, county and local regulations ensure that timber will be managed in a sustainable manner. In addition to comprehensive state regulations, some forest landowners voluntarily choose to seek third-party certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Foresty Initiative (SFI), entailing a rigorous and expensive evaluation of strict standards by qualified independent auditors who have no vested interest in the forestland in question.

This study investigates how the California Forest Practice Rules (FPRs) and other legal requirements compare to FSC and SFI standards in providing protection to environmental and cultural resources on private forestlands in California. It attempts to not only compare the written standards of each of the three systems, but also attempts to describe how these standards are evaluated in the field.

California Urban Woody Green Waste Utilization, By Tim R. Plumb, Marianne M. Wolf and John Shelly (May 1999) Tech Report 8

pdfCalifornia Urban Woody Green Waste Utilization


This report deals with one of California's important "natural" resources, namely, urban trees that are removed for a wide variety of reasons and end-up clogging landfills, or at best are used for firewood or other low value commodities. Historically, productive utilization of this "waste material" for valuable lumber has been minimal; but in recent years, it's potential use has been recognized by a few resource managers and mill operators. The size of this potential resource, who is currently milling it, its physical characteristics, and how to get into the urban lumber producing business are the subjects of this report.

Community and Urban Forest Inventory and Management Program. By Norman H. Pillsbury  (April 2015) Tech Report 14

CUFIM.zip (MS Excel Programs) 5.9MB


The Community and Urban Forest Inventory and Management program (CUFIM) is one more step in answer to the call for improved management and sustainability of California's urban forests.

This report presents an Mac Excel-based computer program that can be used to setup and maintain a tree inventory and database, and to evaluate the urban forest in quantative terms including volume and value. It is the hope of the authors that this effort will help urban communities take the next step toward sustainability of the urban forest resource.

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Elements of Sustainability in Urban Forestry, by Richard Thompson, Norman Pillsbury and Richard Hanna. (July 1994) Tech Report 1

pdfElements of Sustainability


For quite some time now people have recognized the value of trees in urban environments. Cities and communities responded to this demand by planting trees wherever and whenever they could afford. Developers were required to participate under simplistic rules like "two trees for every parking space." The result was the creation of urban forests that were generally not well planned and not sustainable. The purpose of this study was to describe the key elements in a urban forestry program that make it sustainable and to provide direction through examples of cities and communities that are employing some of them.

Just as in wildland settings, a sustainable forest is one which is ecologically sound, socially acceptable, and economically efficient. To achieve this condition, a level of "systems-thinking" is needed. This requires understanding the spatial and temporal interrelationships between programs and management practices. Four major programmatic areas were identified that form the foundation of a sustainable urban forestry program. They are:

- species selection and diversification
- inventory and landscape planning
- tree care and wood utilization
- public relations and support.

Each of these core areas requires careful understanding and implementation of the other. Planting a tree is wasted if regard is not given to effects on fire hazard, air quality, soil and water conservation, other public infrastructure, wildlife, cultural values, frequency and magnitude of tree care costs, and utilization of wood residues from trimmings and removal. And this is a simple task when compared to designing and managing the entire urban forest landscape with its complex ecological, social and economic issues.

Examples of programs designed to implement these elements of sustainability were provided in Monterey, Irvine, Modesto, Lompoc and Sacramento. Advice, lessons learned, successes and failures were conveyed by each of the practicing urban foresters in these cities. Next a benefit-cost analysis of these programs was presented in order to justify funding by public and private entities. And finally this information was compiled into a highly generalized regional model for small to medium-sized communities showing costs and how to acquire information and resources to begin the process of establishing, or converting to, a sustainable urban forest.

Long-Term Growth, Sudden Oak Death Assessment and Economic Viability of Coast Live Oak in Three California Counties - 17 Year Results. By Norman H. Pillsbury, Lawrence E. Bonner, Richard P. Thompson, Walter R. Mark, and Roy D. Cuzick - Tech Report 12

pdfLong-Term Growth, Sudden Oak Death Assessment and Economic Viability of Coast Live Oak in Three California Counties - 17 Year Results (Volume I)
pdfLong-Term Growth, Sudden Oak Death Assessment and Economic Viability of Coast Live Oak in Three California Counties - 17 Year Results (Volume II)

A long-term thinning study was established in ten stands of coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia Née) in the Central Coast of California in 1984. Information about diameter, basal area, and volume growth and yield has been obtained from unthinned control plots and from plots thinned to 50 and 100 square feet of basal area per acre. Plots were measured in 1984, 1989, 1996, and 2001. Both basal area and total volume growth percentages were significantly greater in the thinned plots compared to control plots. In 2001, Sudden Oak Death study plots were established around the growth plots. Although some trees exhibited suspicious symptoms, all laboratory tests were negative for the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum in the study plots.

Tree Volume Equations for Fifteen Urban Species in California, by Norman H. Pillsbury, Jeffrey L. Reimer, and Richard P. Thompson (June 1998) Tech Report 7

pdfTree Volume Equations for Fifteen Urban Species in California


This study is the first phase of a three-phase urban forest utilization project at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Selected samples of fifteen urban species were carefully measured in order to develop tree volume equations. These species include Chinese Elm, Holly Oak, Camphor Tree, Jacaranda, American Sweet Gum, Monterey Pine, Blue Gum, Monterey Cypress, Acacia (golden wattle), Carob, Modesto Ash, Southern Magnolia, Sawleaf Zelkova, London Plane, and Chinese Pistache. Equations for species in three regions (Southland, Coastal and Central Valley) of California were developed. The results of all regions are completed and reported here. Local and standard volume equations were developed for use by urban foresters needing to calculate tree volumes.

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Valuation of Tree Aesthetics on Small Urban-Interface Properties by Richard Thompson, Richard Hanna, Jay Noel , and Douglas Piirto (Journal of Arboriculture 25(5): September 1999) Tech Report 5

pdfValuation of Tree Aesthetics on Small Urban-Interface Properties


A model was developed to predict the value contribution of forest condition on small urban-wildland interface properties. Sample data were collected on property transactions in the Lake Tahoe Basin of California between 1990 and 1994. A variant of the stand density index (SDI) and a tree health measure were added to a list of traditional property characteristics (i.e., location, house size, lot size) to express the influence of tree care on property value. These aesthetic characteristics were statistically significant despite the expected dominant influence of the traditional characteristics. Values for the forest density and health characteristics were estimated and reveal a contribution to property value between 5% and 20%.