What is urban forestry?

Urban forestry is the management of trees in the urban landscape. It is separate from arboriculture in that it encompasses the management of trees as a whole system as well as on an individual basis. At Urban Forestry Associates, we see the urban forest for the trees and the forest. The urban forest serves many functions and silently provides benefits that are often unappreciated. However, without management, this functioning urban ecosystem can serve as a host for disease, a liability for property owners and a safety hazard for all. The staff at UFA all hold degrees in forest science and have a deep knowledge of tree anatomy, silviculture, ecology, tree pathology and soil science.


How old is this tree?

Platanus racemosa

Platanus racemosa

The answer to this is almost always, “Not as old as you might think.” Unfortunately, we can almost never look at a tree and say for certain how old it is.  There are many factors that contribute to the growth rate of a tree such as species and site conditions.  A species like giant sequoia, which is known as “shade tolerant”, can grow slowly in the shade for hundreds of years and only reach a size of 60’.  The same tree could be planted in full sun and rich soil and easily reach over 100’ in less than a century.  Without performing a mildly invasive analysis with an increment bore (which we can do), there is no way to say for certain.


What is sudden oak death (SOD)

In short, if you value the oak woodlands of California or the oak in your front yard, it is something you should know, and be concerned about. We are able to recommend maintenance practices that are proven to resist the contraction of SOD in some trees. If you believe your tree is already infected, we can confirm your diagnosis and recommend treatment if the infection is identified in its early stages. In the late stages of the disease, complete removal of the host is the only effective treatment, i.e., tree removal.

As it is a relatively new disease to the area, the current understanding is constantly evolving and so too are the recommendations. We work hard to stay up to date with current research.

Also see: www.suddenoakdeath.org. 


Will my old tree die soon?

This is a topic upon which we see a distinct polarity in the general public. Many people see a large, old tree as something dangerous that will crush them in their sleep (too big not to fail). Many others believe, and like to try to convince us, that the older a tree gets, the less likely it is to fail. Neither idea is categorically correct or incorrect. As mentioned above, there are many factors that contribute to the growth rate of a tree. For the most part, the true likelihood of tree failure can only be evaluated on a case by case basis, and often has little to do with the age of the tree.


Can I remove my tree?

If it is large enough for you to be asking yourself this question, the answer is probably “not without a permit”. Just because you own a tree, does not give you the legal right to cut it down under the vast majority of the local ordinances. Very generally speaking, most trees bigger than about 6" in diameter at 4.5' above grade (known as dbh) are going to require a permit. This cut-off diameter can vary by species depending on where you live. Not only that, but different towns and cities require you to measure circumference instead of diameter or to take the measurement at 2' above grade instead of 4.5' (Larkspur).

Most removal permit applications require an Arborist Report to support the removal, which we can provide during our One-Hour Inspections.