Urban and Community Forestry

Department: CAL FIRE

Program Description: The Urban and Community Forestry Program leads the effort to expand urban forests in California. From mitigating extreme heat, reducing greenhouse gasses, and improving local air, soil, and water quality, to providing an environment better for mental and physical health and wellbeing, trees improve the quality of life in urban environments where 95% of Californians live. Urban forests are crucial for community resilience and the UCF Program helps create more sustainable urban forests by planting trees, improving regional and local policies, building partnerships, expanding the tree care industry workforce, and supporting education and outreach. The program offers grants for several urban forestry related purposes including urban tree canopy expansion, improved urban forest management, education and workforce development, creating healthier and more natural schoolyards, and urban wood and biomass utilization. There is a very strong emphasis on serving disadvantaged communities, as they are nearly always the communities with the lowest canopy cover and fewest urban forest resources.

Program Impact: With the wildfire resilience funding, the Urban and Community Forestry Program awarded 40 new grants (2021-22-grant-awards_web.pdf (ca.gov)), which will plant more than 37,000 trees, reduce greenhouse gases by nearly 173,000 metric tons annually, and provide workforce development by training, educating, and/or assisting in job placement for more than 1,000 individuals in urban forestry programs. An overview of the Urban and Community Forestry Program grants program is available at, Urban and Community Forestry Grant Programs (ca.gov).

Resilience in Action: The Oakland based non-profit, Planting Justice developed partnerships with the City of Oakland, Alameda County, University of California Davis, and the City of Sacramento for an Urban Forestry Education and Workforce Development grant with total project funding of nearly $3 million (grant funding of $1,453,495; matching $1,458,995). The project is focused on training, education, and job placement for formerly incarcerated and at-risk individuals from black, indigenous and people of color populations to work in urban nursery production. The grant allows Planting Justice to hire and train 15 additional staff for established programs and expand its service area from Alameda County to include a satellite facility in the Sacramento region. This project builds on the $28 million Transformative Climate Communities grant in east Oakland which produced a multitude of community benefits as documented in the “Going Deep” video presented at the Catalyst Conference February 2023.

Keta Price presenting “Going Deep” documentary
CalFire Planting Trees with Kids
CAL FIRE Urban Forester plants trees with students during a community event.