What is an urban forest?
An urban forest consists of all of the vegetation within an urban area, both planted and naturally occurring. In Cincinnati, the urban forest includes street trees, city parks, and wooded rights-of-way.
Who are we?
The Urban Forestry program has been operating since 1981 with funding provided by an annual assessment based upon footage upon the right-of-way. Urban Forestry consists of four foresters across four districts, as well as an in-house tree technician crew that manages smaller pruning, planting and tree removal jobs in the right-of-way.
What do we do?
Urban Forestry has the responsibility for the maintenance of all the City’s street trees, which are often located between the street and the sidewalk, or any other trees in a right-of-way.
- serving as the lead agency in care of Cincinnati’s public street trees
- performing an inventory every six years of each neighborhood’s street trees in preparation for preventive maintenance
- plant public street trees to support community development projects and to replace dead or missing trees
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Why are street trees important?
The benefits of street trees are vast, the most obvious being the aesthetic value of a tree-lined street or parkway. However, the value of a healthy urban forest extends beyond beauty and can include one or more of the following:
- reduction in heating/cooling costs through creation of shade or windbreak
- aid in abatement of storm water
- reduction of erosion through abatement of stormwater runoff
- increase in air quality
- decrease in the effects of noise and visual pollution through buffering and screening
Read more about Why are street trees important?
Every six years, each neighborhood of Cincinnati undergoes a comprehensive inventory and pruning cycle known as preventive maintenance. Each district’s Urban Forester determines the number of trees per neighborhood, and identifies trees that need removal or more extensive work. When your neighborhood’s cycle approaches, you may notice spray-painted markings on trees; blue dots designate trees as being in the right-of-way, while yellow “Xs” designate a tree as being scheduled for removal, as it is dead, dying or diseased. Citizens can make an objection to a tree’s removal and inquire about the work by contacting the Urban Forestry Division.
Request a street tree
If you would like a street tree in front of your property, please contact Urban Forestry. An Urban Forester will assist with tree placement, as well as species selection, taking into consideration the size of the treelawn and the presence of overhead wires. Urban Forestry only has the ability to plant trees on the public right-of-way. If you would like a tree on private property, please refer to the Fall Tree Releaf programs. Citizens may plant their own trees in the treelawn, pending a “Public Street Tree Work Permit” from Urban Forestry.
The annual ReLeaf program began in 1988 with a mission to provide trees for homeowners who either have lawns that are too narrow to be planted by Urban Forestry or for those with conflicting utility service structures. The program has expanded to include schools, community areas, and other public green spaces. Eligible participants are provided a tree to plant in their front yard, providing the beauty and energy-saving benefits street trees bring. Funding from Duke Energy and the Cincinnati Parks Foundation allows us to provide the trees to Cincinnati property owners at no cost to them. To date, we have given away more than 18,000 trees.
If you are interested in participating in the ReLeaf program, please click on the links below to see program guidelines, tree selection, and the application.
Upon removal of a street tree, the remaining stump will be ground down by a city contractor. The stump-grinding contractor will leave stump grindings in the original spot at a height of 4-6 inches. This may seem high, however, the grindings will decompose over several seasons, return the ground level to its initial height, and prevent the need for backfilling. If you have a street tree stump that has not been ground for several years, please let us know.
Although many trees meet an early end in an urban environment, the wood can often still be milled and used. The Urban Timber program, in cooperation with several partners, takes logs that were only to be discarded, and turns them into something beautiful.
Pruning for clearance around power and communication lines is done by the owners of said utilities. In this region, Duke Energy owns the lines and maintains the clearance around them and contracts various tree-care companies to perform the work. Duke Energy’s Vegetation Management Division works with Urban Forestry in an effort to best maintain the goals that Urban Forestry holds. For more information on utility pruning, please visit Duke Energy’s Vegetation Management page:
The Cincinnati Park Board’s Natural Resource Management Section (NRMS) is responsible for planting and maintaining park forests, trees along Cincinnati public streets, areas of highway and greenway property and many miles of public trails. This public urban forest provides both monetary and environmental benefits to taxpayers through reduction of pollution, storm water runoff and energy costs. This section is a front-line agency that responds to citizen service requests (CSRs,) internal service requests and 24-hour emergencies.
Cincinnati Parks’ Greenspace program is dedicated to beautifying public greenspaces in community business districts, downtown Cincinnati, main arteries, traffic islands, highway entrances, community gateways, park-like settings and other public areas through horticultural practices. This effort helps in the economic growth of Cincinnati and its communities. Please click the link below to see all the Beautification Projects around town.
Cincinnati Parks’ Greenspace program has partnered with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati to mitigate stormwater, improve water quality, strengthen community interest and protect the overall health of our watersheds.