Urban Forestry

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The City of Charlottesville has taken an active role in the preservation, protection, expansion, monitoring, and education about its urban forest.  The City Parks Department is responsible for planting, maintenance, and removal of trees on public properties including parks, schools, street right-of-ways, and at public buildings such as City Hall.  This page provides information on a variety of programs, policies, studies, and efforts related to urban forest management.

The 2015 Citywide Urban Tree Canopy Report is complete, and there is a presentation to go with it.

The 2016 Downtown  Mall Tree Assessment report is available

The City has an appointed Tree Commission to help advise staff and council on urban forest management efforts and policies.

Charlottesville has adopted a Tree Conservation Ordinance to allow special trees to be considered for additional protections. Trees may be nominated in one of four categories: Heritage tree means any tree that is believed to have notable historic or cultural interest; Memorial tree means any tree that is a special commemorating memorial; Specimen tree means any tree that is believe to be notable by virtue of its outstanding size and quality for its particular species; Street tree means any tree that is believed to grow in the street right-of-way or on private property as authorized by the owner and placed or planted there by the local government. Anyone may nominate a tree on private property, but if the tree is not nominated by the property owner, the nomination must include a written consent of the property owner. Only the Tree Commission may nominate public trees. To nominate a tree, download this nomination form and email it ehmand@charlottesville.org or use this fillable nomination form.

The City has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation TREE CITY USA for 8 years, and received a" growth award" in 2010 for its efforts to further improve its forestry management.

Jefferson Park Avenue - Utility Friendly Arboretum showcases tree species that fit under and above utilities without needing pruning and that do not impact the utilities around them. Visit the median along JPA to see trees and learn more about how you can plant similar trees on your property.

Video Archive: Arbor Day 2009 - Tree Planting Event

Urban Tree Canopy Management

The City of Charlottesville has made strong commitments to natural resource management through its adoption of the 1998 Sustainability accords, the 2001 Comprehensive Plan, the 2003 Environmental Sustainability Policy, the pursuit of a citywide Environmental Management System, and most recently, the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which specifically identifies the maintenance of healthy urban forests as an effective supporting action. 

In response to various recent requests pertaining to the protection and management of urban trees and the urban tree canopy; representatives from the Parks and Recreation Department, the Department of Neighborhood Development Services, and the Environmental Office in Public Works have been developing strategies that will place the City in a proactive management position regarding the protection of our natural resources.

An Urban Forest Management Plan has been developed that supports the City’s historical commitments, is strategic in structure and will enable Charlottesville to be proactive in the stewardship of our natural resources, both public and private.   The City's overall Tree Canopy Map which shows the city has a 47% overall tree canopy was developed as part of this study.   City Council heard a presentation on the plan on June 15, 2009. This effort is designed to place the City in a position to manage its forests and trees in a sustainable and renewable manner, and provide for a codified program that meets the needs and values of our community.

Tree Canopy by neighborhood

Tree Canopy by Entry Corridor

Tree Canopy by Watershed

The City has also undertaken an Urban Forest Assessment of trees on public lands including parks, schools, cemeteries, city buildings, and street medians.  The assessment helps identify the age, diversity, condition, and maintenance needs of the city's trees and forested lands. 

An Invasive Plant Species Assessment of public lands was conducted to determine the extent, type, and management options for exotic trees, vines, and other plants that threaten our urban forests and landscapes.   Invasive plant species management techniques  for various invasive species are included in the report.  For example, to remove vines from a tree, cut the vine both at shoulder height and at the ground to create a large gap that will help prevent the vine from re-climbing into the tree canopy. Budget sheets for each park for the invasives management plan are in a separate document due to file size.

Charlottesville Vegetative Debris Management Plan

Summary of Charlottesville Ordinances related to trees and forests

Best Management Practices for Tree Preservation, Transplanting, and Removal (guide for homeowners and developers)