Urban Forestry Management in San Francisco

The Department of the Environment’s role in supporting the Urban Forestry Council, convening urban forest managers, reporting, and serving as an information hub, facilitates the groups and individuals that have direct oversight of portions of the urban forest.

The Urban Forestry Council advises city departments, including the Board of Supervisors and the mayor. They serve to provide public education, develop tree-care standards; identify funding needs, staffing needs, and opportunities for urban forest programs; secure adequate resources for urban forest programs; facilitate coordination of tree-management responsibilities among agencies; and report on the state of the urban forest.

The Department of Public Works oversees the care and management of all street trees in San Francisco. Though private property owners are required to care for approximately 2/3 of all sidewalk trees in the City, these trees are public property and subject to DPW regulation. On DPW’s website, you can find information on tree planting permits and tree removal permit applications, the Sidewalk Landscaping permit process, and a list of street trees maintained by DPW.

Friends of the Urban Forest's plants and maintains young street trees in San Francisco. They plant nearly 1000 trees every year through their community planting program, and also engage in tree care, education, and advocacy. Since their founding in 1981, FUF has planted over xx,xxx trees. Friends  the Urban Forest can help you plant a new or replacement tree in your sidewalk, take care of a tree they've helped you plant, and provide arborist referrals.

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department plants and maintains trees within our city parks. There are approximately 131K (check this number against 2010 report) trees in Golden Gate Park and all of the neighborhood parks combined. As part of their Park Forestry Program, they are using $4 million to assess and treat part of the aging canopy of park trees and revitalize the urban forest to provide all San Franciscans with healthy, safe, and sustainable greenery.
The Golden Gate National Parks area stretch 70 miles north and south of the Golden Gate Bridge. Some of San Francisco’s prominent open space areas are included in this management region, including the Presidio and Land’s End.  The National Parks Service, Presidio Trust, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy collaborate to manage these lands, and the trees within them. 

Various other agencies, such as the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the San Francisco Unified School District, the Port Authority, the Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco Airport, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, Treasure Island Development Authority, and the Department of Public Health, among many others, also maintain portions of the urban forest. 

The Planning Department plays a central role in guiding the long-term development of the built and natural environment. In addition to the Better Streets Plan, which highlights the importance of urban trees, the Planning Department is leading the creation of the Urban Forest Master Plan. Planning also oversees the creation of many area specific plans.