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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 44, Issue 2 — March 2018

A Volunteer and Partnership Baseline for Municipal Forestry Activity in the United States    (View PDF)

Richard J. Hauer, Nilesh Timilsina, Jess Vogt, Burnell C. Fischer, Zach Wirtz, and Ward Peterson

Abstract: Communities cultivate citizen support of municipal forestry operations through volunteers and partnerships. Through a national census and survey of urban forestry activity in over 660 municipalities in the United States, researchers found two-thirds of all responding communities involve volunteers in tree activities. This increases from half of small communities (2,500 to 4,999 people) to all large communities (one million or more people) involving volunteers. When tabulated for the United States, a mean national estimate of 345,466 (195,754 SEM) people volunteered 1,484,204 (665,460 SEM) hours with municipal tree activities. This equates to 714 (320 SEM) full-time equivalent (2,080 hour-base year) positions. Overall, volunteers completed nearly 5% of municipal tree care activities. Nearly 80% of the municipalities train their volunteers. Tree planting (85% of communities) was the most common activity, followed by tree watering (40%), awareness/education programs (39%), tree pruning (28%), and fundraising (20%). Findings were contrasted with U.S. census population groups to disaggregate if volunteerism varied by community size. Volunteers were more commonly involved in communities with a greater urban-forestry capacity derived from a sustainability index score. Six attributes of municipal forestry program had either positive (+) or negative (-) effect on volunteer participation in urban forestry activities. These included adequate budget (-), per capita spending (-), tree board (+), outreach (+), strategic plan (+), and total employment (+).

Keywords: Civic Science; Municipal Forestry; Partnership; Volunteer

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