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Minimizing tree losses, maximizing tree love

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

As manager of our urban forestry program, I’m often torn between pride in the positive impact we’ve made on the greening of San Francisco and a real concern that we’re not doing enough.

Thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers, and donors, we’ll be planting at least 1,100 street trees this year – a terrific service to the City we love. But MORE than 1,100 street trees are lost each year because they’ve reached the end of their natural lives or they’ve been felled by storms, vandalism, disease, or other hazards. Given the harsh reality of the climate crisis and its potential local impact, a fully-stocked urban forest is essential for the health and well-being of our City. Planting trees today will protect all of us, especially the most vulnerable, from the hotter climate ahead.

But this ambitious goal cannot be achieved without adequate funding. We’re working with our allies in City Hall and other community organizations to develop a plan for better public funding for tree planting. We’ll keep you informed about how you can help!

Meanwhile we’re focused on making the best possible use of our existing resources. Over the years, we have refined our tree planting program to minimize losses and maximize the benefits to San Franciscans:

  • We plant the right tree in the right place. We have identified tree species that can thrive in our sandy soil, salty wind, and drought conditions. We’re mindful of the microclimate at each specific planting site. And we’re committed to improving tree equity by planting in neighborhoods with the fewest trees.

  • We care for trees until they’re established. When we plant a tree, we give it the best possible head start by adding compost, spreading mulch on top, and installing and filling a watering bag. During the next three years, our Tree Care crew visits the tree to help it reach a healthy and stable maturity.

  • We water young trees weekly. Our watering technicians visit trees to refill their watering bags.

  • We’re preparing for a hotter future. As we update the palette of tree species we plant, we’re looking at what grows well in places with the climate we expect to have 20 years from now.

For now, it’s up to Friends of the Urban Forest and our volunteers and supporters to replenish our street tree population and ensure that all San Franciscans get the benefits of trees. Thank you for being our partner in that vital task. When you donate to support tree planting, we make every dollar count. Your gift means more trees get planted. So please give today to ensure we have a thriving urban forest tomorrow. Thank you!

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