Founded in 1981, we are a non-profit organization committed to revitalizing San Francisco’s urban forest, building community, and taking a local leadership role in mitigating global environmental problems through the simple act of planting and caring for trees and sidewalk gardens.
Our 3-year Strategic Plan: 2019-2022
A climate-resilient city where all people, trees and plants thrive.
We ground our work in movements for justice, recognizing and addressing environmental harm caused by racism.
We work in partnership with the communities we serve to grow trees and gardens.
We are multigenerational stewards of the land we occupy, working to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.
We instill trust by being accountable and transparent about our work to ourselves and others.
We celebrate the life-affirming power of trees and plants.
Friends of the Urban Forest connects people with nature and each other by planting and caring for San Francisco’s trees and gardens.
OUR FOUNDING STORY
Friends of the Urban Forest started when George Williams, Brian Fewer, Keith Davey, Jack Spring, and Fred Smith decided to take matters into their own hands after the City and County of San Francisco cut funding to urban forestry in the late 1970s. Michelle Anderson and Isabel Wade, the Urban Forestry Consultant for the California Department of Forestry at the time, joined the five original founders and formed a board, which elected Ms. Wade as the first board president.
Together they mobilized community members to start planting trees. The first tree planting took place on March 7, 1981 – California’s Arbor Day – in Noe Valley. With the help of volunteers, they planted approximately 50 trees. The Glossy Privet (Ligustrum lucidum) at 3909 24th Street was the first one planted. Shortly thereafter, neighborhoods across the city began to organize their own tree-planting events with the leadership and support of the Friends of the Urban Forest. Ruth Gravanis was hired as its first executive director.
Journey through the years:
2021: Brian Wiedenmeier joined Friends of the Urban Forest as Executive Director. He brings a strong focus on ensuring a more equitable distribution of trees throughout San Francisco, so their benefits are shared with the most vulnerable members of our community.
2016: Friends of the Urban Forest was a leader in the creation and passage of the Healthy Trees and Safe Sidewalks ballot measure (Prop E), which provided dedicated funding for the City to maintain all street trees and repair all tree-related sidewalk damage.
2010: Sidewalk Gardening program is formally launched.
2007: Started creating sidewalk gardens and expanding street tree basins as a pilot project to develop the understory of San Francisco’s urban forest.
1996: Friends of the Urban Forest reaches the milestone of planting 20,000 trees.
1995: Youth Tree Care program (now called Green Teens) is launched, one of the nation’s few paid urban forestry vocational skills training programs.
1991: The tree Care program is developed with the help of an ISA-certified arborist.
1985: The street tree planting and care guide “Trees for San Francisco,” won the Communications Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.