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Sunday, January 30, 2011

What’s an Urban Forester?


Georgia Silvera Seamans walks us through the basics of several city arboreal occupations, strolling past some of Boston’s finest trees along the way.


imageWinter tulips: Liriodendron tulipifera in Boston

Photo: Geneva Wirth

By Georgia Silvera Seamans

In the City of Boston, there are several types of tree professionals, including urban forester, tree warden, and arborist.  I worked as an urban forester there, managing street-tree planting contracts.  But thanks to my training as a community forester, a resource person for community groups who desired to create and sustain neighborhood green-spaces, I expanded my original responsibilities as city forester. I created a website, an urban forestry brochure, and an annual tree contest. On behalf of the Boston Parks Department, I co-directed the Boston Urban Stewards, a youth-focused urban ecology and stewardship program.  These new community-focused programs earned the city a Growth Award from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. 

Massachusetts also has tree wardens: under the state‚Äôs General Law Chapter 87, the tree warden is responsible for the control of public shade trees, though the law does not require the tree warden to be an arborist. An arborist is a certified tree professional.  Most states have an arborist association.  In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Arborist Association administers the certification.  I became a Massachusetts certified arborist in 2002.

The arborist exam includes a tree identification section.  One of the places I practiced my tree identification skills was the Arnold Arboretum in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.  The Arboretum is a 265-acre living collection of 7,082 individual plants.  The trees of the Arboretum are spectacularly maintained and catalogued, which made it a great place to study.  My job as an urban forester had also given me the opportunity to study. I developed my identification skills visiting nurseries to select street and park trees, monitoring the health of street trees during the contractual maintenance period, and working with young people and community groups on street tree inventories.


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Posted by Julie on 01/30 at 10:20 PM
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