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Tree Ordinances Workshop

On Dec. 14, MARC’s Academy for Sustainable Communities hosted a toolbox-series workshop on developing tree protection and replacement ordinances. Presentations were made by Tom Jacobs, MARC’s director of environmental programs, and Skip Kincaid, senior consulting urban forester from the Davey Resource Group. (The presentations are available to view at the bottom of the page.)

The workshop included an overview of the regional policy and planning framework for urban forestry for metropolitan Kansas City; a review of best practices and exemplary ordinances adopted by other communities; and group discussion of key issues and next steps.

The regional framework, adopted by MARC’s Board of Directors last fall, prioritizes four key elements for initial implementation: development of tree ordinances; integration of urban forestry practices within stormwater best management practices, planning and design; urban forest maintenance; and the development of a regional tree fund as part of regional outreach and communications efforts. This workshop focused on the first of these four priority areas.

Through group discussions, workshop participants identified the following next steps:

  • Educating diverse audiences, including private landowners, on the benefits of trees. Existing models and resources such as Tree Liberty and the Heartland Tree Alliance provide an excellent basis for future outreach.
  • Creating flexible implementation and funding mechanisms, including a regional tree bank as part of community outreach or flexible mitigation efforts.
  • Using a mix of incentives and regulatory strategies. Incentives for protection of planting, for example, may be linked to stormwater and energy conservation efforts. Credits could be awarded for timber stand improvements on private properties to increase ecosystem benefits.
  • Implementing more stringent tree protection and replacement policies that include an “inch-for-inch” approach to facilitate additional tree protection and conservation. I-tree analysis can provide a rational basis for retention or replacement of canopy coverage to maintain current levels of ecosystem services.
  • Introducing several low-cost administrative strategies that local governments may employ, such as heightened inspection and enforcement efforts for existing regulations; licensing of tree care providers; enhanced levels of coordination with utilities; increased cross-training for city employees on tree planting and maintenance; and adoption of best-practice standards for city staff, contractors and volunteers for tree planting, establishment and maintenance.

Presentations from the Tree Protection and Replacement Ordinances workshop: