San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Annual Urban Forest Reports

Overview of San Francisco’s Urban Forest, FY 2015-2016

SF Environment staff surveyed 21 City departments, public agencies, and non-government organizations that oversee or manage a portion of the urban forest in San Francisco. Organizations were asked to provide information on forestry budget and staffing, maintenance activities, accomplishments, and concerns in fiscal year 2015-2016. Of the 21 organizations surveyed, 19 provided full or partial responses.

This data is tracked to:

  • Better understand the resources used to maintain the urban forest across the city.
  • Track the priorities, needs, and concerns of city departments and local nonprofits, and monitor how they change over time.
  • Better understand threats to the future well-being of our urban forest.
  • Find ways to increase the contributions that trees provide to our community.

Primary Findings:

In fiscal year 2015-2016, all reporting organizations planted 2,683 (significant decrease from the 3,277 reported tree plantings last year), removed 2,381 trees (significant increase from the 1,810 reported tree removals last year), and took care of 12,480 trees (significant decrease from the 14,104 reported trees pruned and otherwise cared for last year.)   

Friends of the Urban Forest, SFO, SFUSD, and UCSF increased tree planting this year. General Hospital, SFSU, and Public Works decreased tree planting this year, with a significant reduction for Public Works (last year 1,243 trees planted, this year 520.) Public Works also significant reduced tree removals this year (last year 1172, this year 488), along with PG&E and RPD who also reduced tree removals. TIDA and UCSF both significantly increase tree removals this year (TIDA 12 last year and 752 this year; UCSF 19 last year 390 this year) along with increased tree removals from SFSU, SFO, Presidio Trust, and General Hospital.

Several urban forestry programs increased staffing this year, including Public Works (25 FTE last year, 28 FTE this year), FUF (12.5 FTE last year, 17 FTE this year), RPD (23 FTE last year, 25 FTE this year), SFO (2 FTE last year, 12 FTE this year). Several programs also increased funding this year, including RPD ($1.88M last year, $4.6M this year with bond funding), SFO ($125K last year, $220K this year), SFUSD ($60K last year, $90K this year), and TIDA ($943K last year, $1.14M this year.) Public Works forestry budget significantly decreased from $4.96M last year, $3.03M this year.

Loss of mature and established trees, and the lack of resources to properly manage these trees, were forestry managers’ greatest concerns in fiscal year 2015-2016. Forestry managers reporting increasing tree health concerns due to drought stress, which exacerbated pest problems and health issues in mature and aging trees. Some departments, for example SFO, have begun replacing trees that require summer water with species that are adapted to dry summer conditions.

A census of all street trees in San Francisco was started in January 2016 and will be complete September 2016. In addition to identifying the species and condition of every street in the city, the census surveys vacant sites to determine where additional street trees could be planted. The data collected through this project will help San Francisco make more informed species selections for new tree planting and will identify maintenance priorities.

In July 2016, the Board of Supervisors approved Proposition E for the November 2016 ballot. If this measure passes, it will require the City to take responsibility for all street trees, including tree-related sidewalk repairs and trip-and-fall liability, and create a $19M set-aside for street tree care with a provision of $500,000 per year for the San Francisco Unified School District’s tree care and maintenance needs.

Read the full 2016 Annual Urban Forest Report here >

Past Annual Urban Forest Reports

2015 Annual Urban Forest Report
2014 Annual Urban Forest Report 
2013 Annual Urban Forest Report
2012 Annual Urban Forest Report
2011 Annual Urban Forest Report
2010 Annual Urban Forest Report
2009 Annual Urban Forest Report
2008 Annual Urban Forest Report

*Note: Corrected report published 10/6/16

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