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Urban Forestry Division Reflects on Successes of 2023

Growing the Division's capacity delivers for residents.

The year 2023 marked significant changes to the Urban Forestry Division of Boston’s Parks Department. These changes will have lasting impacts on achieving the City’s long-term plan of growing a sustainable and equitable urban forest. Since the release of the Urban Forest Plan in September of 2022, the Division added many new employees including a director, three arborists, an administrative assistant, three forepersons, as well as three equipment operators. Two of the equipment operators were graduates of PowerCorps Boston. Additionally, the City has ordered new equipment to facilitate the work of the growing staff.

This investment has already had direct impacts for residents of Boston. The Urban Forestry Division has worked to update the City’s inventory of over 40,000 street trees, which is used to plan and manage tree maintenance work. The Division also relies on input from neighborhood residents who know their local trees well. Through the 311 service request portal and phone line, residents can create service requests for trees to be inspected for pruning or potential hazards, report downed limbs or tree emergencies, and request new trees to be planted.

The City tree crews responded to and closed 7,642 service requests from the 311 portal in 2023, as tallied on the dashboard developed by the City’s data analytics team. The Division’s response to cases is guided by practices that prioritize the urban forest’s longevity and best serve the public. Given the high level of engagement through the 311 portal, the completion time for non-emergency cases may take some time. However, the Urban Forestry team hopes to continue building on the success of 2023 and shorten the response time for requests.

Ultimately, this increased personnel and equipment capacity will be able to provide more systematic care for our trees allowing for a more proactive approach to our urban forest.

Three people wrangle a soon-to-be-planted tree in front of a hole in the ground.

 

An arborist takes notes on a young tree.

 

An arborist surveys a street tree in front of a Parks vehicle.

 

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