Begin Main Content Area

Urban and Community Forestry

Trees do a lot for communities and people. They are critical in our efforts to address climate change, as they pull in and store carbon (a process that also helps with clean air). Other benefits are:

  • Reducing energy costs
  • Slowing runoff after storms
  • Increasing property value
  • Reducing noise
  • Attracting birds and wildlife
  • Providing jobs related to tree planting and care

Studies show that regular contact with trees and green spaces improves physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’s Urban and Community Forestry Program -- formerly known as TreeVitalize:

  • Helps communities plan for, plant, and care for trees
  • Offers educational opportunities about the benefits of trees and the importance of proper planting and tree care.

The department and its partners provide a broad range of services to support sustainable urban and community forest management across Pennsylvania.

The department also facilitates the planting of thousands of trees and assists hundreds of communities every year.

Tree Equity

Tree equity ensures that there is a balance of trees throughout all neighborhoods in cities and communities because of the many benefits they provide.

In 2021, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources hired its first Tree Equity Specialist.

The position involves developing genuine connections and partnerships with community groups, local and state organizations, and governmental agencies to guarantee access to healthy trees in every community.

Tree equity tailors strategic tree planning and planting based on the needs of the people in a neighborhood or community.

It’s different from equality, which would consider every neighborhood or community the same despite differing needs.

Get Help Planting Trees in Communities

Assistance to communities includes, but is not limited to:

  • Tree selection and tree planting
  • Tree care
  • Tree inventories and management plans
  • Young tree monitoring
  • Hazard tree mitigation
  • Urban wood utilization
  • Tree care, volunteer management, and other related training

To get started, contact the department’s urban and community forestry experts at 717-787-2703.

Financial and Technical Assistance for Community Tree Planting

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Partnership Program offers Community and Watershed Forestry grants greater than $50,000 for tree planning and planting.

Grant applications are due in the beginning of April each year.

The department also works with a number of partners to assist communities in establishing and building programs that plant, maintain, and sustainably manage public shade trees.

Partners offer educational opportunities throughout the year across the state to build awareness of the importance of trees, teach proper tree care, tree maintenance, and community tree management:

  • TreePennsylvania -- Pennsylvania’s Urban and Community Forestry Council. The Pennsylvania Urban and Community Forestry Council is a statewide non-profit organization that provides grants and training community trees.

  • Pennsylvania Horticulture Society. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the society is an environmental non-profit working to restore the urban tree canopy in the southeast region of the state.

  • Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy partners with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to administer tree planting grants for the greater Pittsburgh area.

  • Tree Pittsburgh. Tree Pittsburgh is an environmental non-profit organization aimed at restoring and protecting Pittsburgh’s trees.

  • Penn State Extension. Penn State Extension has five regional (northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, and southcentral) urban foresters who help communities manage their trees properly and safely through technical advice, educational workshops, and grants that promote proper tree planting and tree care.

  • The Department of Conservation and Natutral Resources’s TreeKeeper map is a free tool available to any community in Pennsylvania. TreeKeeper allows users to house and easily update their tree inventory data, create work plans, and record grant-funded trees. There is a tutorial video to help get started with TreeKeeper.

Keystone Tree Fund

The Keystone Tree Fund helps buy, plant, and maintain more trees in communities and along waterways in the Commonwealth.

Donations come from a voluntary $3 check-off box on Pennsylvania driver’s license and vehicle registration online applications.

The fund also can accept direct donations in the form of checks.

Checks should be made out to “DCNR c/o Keystone Tree Fund,” and mailed to:

PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry
ATTN: Rural and Community Forestry
400 Market St., 6th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17105

Tree City USA, Tree Campus USA, Tree Line USA

Tree City, Tree Campus, and Tree Line are Arbor Day Foundation programs that recognize communities, college campuses, and electric utility companies that understand and promote the benefits of shade trees, and take active steps to properly care for them.