Our mission is to bring neighbors together to plant and care for San Francisco’s ideal urban forest.
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 trees.
Our 3-year Strategic Plan: 2019-2022
Friends of the Urban Forest has a long history of integrating urban greening with civic engagement as a way to increase community health and resilience. We strive to connect San Franciscans to nature and to each other.
Education and Stewardship
We are committed to serving as the leading resource for San Franciscans who are interested in urban forestry-related issues and/or developing a career in urban forestry. We cultivate future generations of stewards and advocates for San Francisco’s urban forest, and leaders and professionals in urban forestry.
Quality of Work
Friends of the Urban Forest is an organization of professionals who take pride in making a high-quality, long-term impact on San Francisco’s infrastructure and environment. Our planting and pruning methods are based on best practices as designated by industry leaders such as the International Society of Arboriculture.
Friends of the Urban Forest recognizes San Francisco’s many communities and cultures and the diverse ways in which they connect with our urban forest. We are committed to inclusion and developing a meaningful relationship with anyone interested in greening our city.
Friends of the Urban Forest is committed to equitable access and decision-making in urban greening as a key to growing resilient communities and sharing the climate and health benefits of a robust urban forest throughout San Francisco.
San Francisco’s urban forest is thriving and provides the greatest possible benefits to the environment, people, and future generations.
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.