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What Does a City Forester Do?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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City foresters work primarily with trees and wildlife in urban and suburban areas. They are typically responsible for maintaining the trees within these environments, orchestrating new tree planting projects, and are sometimes also called on to determine whether trees can, or should, be cut down on private property. A city forester will typically be concerned with not only the health and viability of the trees and wildlife in urban and suburban settings, but also with air quality, soil conservation, pest management, and other related subjects. Since city foresters commonly work in areas where much of the natural landscape has been replaced with man made structures, they are often responsible for the conservation of natural resources, or the restoration of public and private lands.

The specific duties of a city forester can depend on where he or she works, and whether the job is in the public or private sector. A city forester who works in an inner city environment is typically known as an urban forester. These urban foresters are responsible for maintaining the trees and wildlife within the city limits, which can include a wider range of duties and activities as well. Most city forester positions require a degree in forestry or another related subject. Licensing requirements vary from one area to another, though low-level, public sector city forester jobs are less likely to require licenses.

Some urban landscapes have been completely stripped of native trees and other plant species, while others have extensive natural parks. The status of the urban forest within a particular city can dictate the specific responsibilities of a city forester. They are typically responsible for whatever trees and other plant species remain in the city, and are often also involved in restoration efforts. To that end, city foresters often take a keen interest in issues like air quality and soil conservation.

On the edges of cities, and in suburban areas, where natural woodlands and developed areas are more likely to coexist, city foresters are often referred to as community foresters. Depending on the local laws and regulations, a community forester may be responsible for the conservation of natural woodlands on both private and public property. In some cases, private landowners must consult with a city forester, arborist, or similar authorized professional before cutting down any trees. These individuals are often responsible for determining whether certain trees are important to the ecosystem, or in danger of falling, which can dictate whether or not they may, or should, be removed. Wildlife issues are also an important part of a community forester's job, as habitat protection can be a large concern in developing areas.

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Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Dec 31, 2014

@Soulfox -- That is why you will often find that city forester job filled by a master gardener. What is a master gardener? That tends to vary from state to state, but a lot of them are connected to universities, have degrees in horticulture and know how to methodically solve problems involved with keeping plants and trees alive.

By Soulfox — On Dec 31, 2014

Believe it or not, the job of city forester can be somewhat difficult because the same skills set used by people tending to trees in forests and rural areas may not apply to what people tending forests in the city have to do.

That is because trees in heavily traveled areas undergo a of stress. Trees planted in cities, then, need some extra care to survive. Just planting them and letting them grow on their own probably won't work.

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