Urban Foresters Prepare for Disaster

Once spring arrives in the region, the threat of ice storms may wane but hurricane season looms!

Ice and wet, heavy snow are not uncommon weather events in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Virginia from December through February.  Along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts the summer threat of hurricanes is always present.  tree defectsAnd these coastal storms often spawn extreme wind events and soil soaking rain inland throughout the South and Midwest.  What should urban forest managers do to prepare for these events?

In the past year several projects have been completed that help guide municipal and urban forest managers.

A Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (CARPDC) project by Rachel Barker developed the Vegetative RiskManagement Plan (VRMP) and collaboration strategies for urban forester engagement with local emergency managers.  This project also includes the Urban Tree Risk Index (UTRI) tool that is a GIS process for developing risk management zones on a county or multi-county basis.  Get the list of links here…

The Friends of Hawaii’s Urban Forest (FHUF) recently announced the Urban Forestry Emergency Operations Planning Guide for Storm Response (UFEOP Guide) developed by Teresa Trueman-Madriaga.  This guide provides urban forestry professionals concrete approaches when preparing for natural disasters that impact the urban forest.  The guide contains 10 key components of preparedness: planning, safety, communications, contracts, incident command system, inventory, mutual aid agreements, training, vegetative debris, and vulnerability.  Get the guide at Smart Trees Pacific…

And, the Georgia Forestry Commission and Georgia Urban Forest Council recently completed Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning for Georgia Communities prepared & presented by Connie Head.  Initial workshops were held in Gainesville, Marietta, and Mansfield for urban forestry staff, municipal/county managers, and local emergency managers.  The combination workbook & template are used to guide community planning and preparation for urban tree mitigation.  Download the workbook & template here…

A key message from all of these projects: know and reduce urban tree risk!