San Francisco

Friends of the Urban Forest

FUF has planted over 60,000 trees, nearly half of San Francisco's street tree canopy.

Friends of the Urban Forest
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Friends of the Urban Forest

From the Executive Director

Unlike other major cities, San Francisco didn’t have many trees when it was first settled - it was mostly sand dunes at the time. Friends of the Urban Forest was founded in 1981 by concerned San Franciscans who believed that the City wasn’t investing sufficiently in the growth and care of the urban forest.

Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) has planted over 60,000 trees, nearly half of San Francisco's street tree canopy. We’ve come a long way, but a lot of work remains to be done. San Francisco still has one of the smallest tree canopies of any major US city.

Dan Flanagan

Friends of the Urban Forest

What we do

Program 1

Free Trees for San Francisco

Friends of the Urban Forest helps San Franciscans get new trees in their communities. Street trees beautify and improve neighborhoods, increase property values, reduce storm-water runoff, and clean the air. FUF's process includes: • Check utilities to ensure no interference • Cut and dispose of concrete from sidewalk • Species recommendations by our arborists • Planting the tree itself • Hardware to support and protect the tree • A volunteer planting crew to help you plant it • New tree owner’s manual • 3 years of tree care services

Program 2

Community Engagement & Education Programs

Our community-based planting model, utilizing volunteers in diverse communities in San Francisco, is part of our unique value proposition. Our programs include: • Planting Sidewalk Gardens---the “understory” of the Urban Forest • Green Teens, one of the Nation’s first paid urban forestry vocational training programs for at-risk youth • The Urban Forest Map: an online database and map of San Francisco’s trees • Green Christmas Trees: potted, non-traditional Christmas trees that can be returned to us to use in our Neighborhood Tree Planting • Tree Tours: walking and bicycling tours of the beautiful trees, parks, and natural spaces of San Francisco

Program 3

Advocacy

The urban forest needs advocates — people who can “speak for the trees” and hold elected officials accountable.

Through the advocacy efforts of Friends of the Urban Forest and our team of “FUF Advocates,” we’ve achieved tremendous progress in improving San Francisco’s municipal urban forestry policies.

By the numbers

The impact

60k

Street trees planted since FUF started in 1981 .

600

At-risk teens have benefited from our Green Teens vocational training in 1995 .

628

Species of trees catalogued in the San Francisco Urban Forest Map .

Did you know?

San Francisco as a whole has a sparse urban forest, with less than 14% of the city shaded by trees, compared to 24% of New York City and 30% of Portland.

Friends of the Urban Forest

$2.5m

Annual Budget
Year ended June 2017
Program Spend
77%
Fundraising Spend
17%
Management Spend
6%
EIN
942699528
Founded
1981
Executive Director
Dan Flanagan
Headquarters
San Francisco, CA
# Employees
68
# Volunteers
969
Friends of the Urban Forest

Instagram

1 week ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

Lower Stockton Street has reopened. Pic by @DannySauter. Um, what's missing here?

1 week ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

We urge Assemblymembers @DavidChiu.sf and @PhilTing and Senator @Scott_Wiener to join Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and @SenatorHenry Stern in supporting $400 million for natural and working lands from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. We need to invest now to see the benefits in the future. We can improve public health by investing in #urbanforests & #urbangreening NOW! California needs to be a leader in the fight against #climatechange. @asmegarcia

1 week ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

Nobel laureate... poet laureate... "don't rest on your laurels" -- all derived from the ancient tradition of honoring achievement with a crown of leaves from the laurel tree (Laurus nobilis). It originated when winners at the Pythic Games (sort of the performing arts version of the Olympic Games) were crowned with laurel wreaths. The Romans borrowed the tradition by crowning victorious generals with laurels. Napoleon had himself depicted with a laurel wreath in portraits and on coins. And so on. Grecian laurels grow on the streets of San Francisco, but please resist the temptation to crown yourself with cuttings!

2 weeks ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

Friends of the Urban Forest's Doug Wildman was among the arborists who volunteered to lead the planting of 100 trees in median strips in Daly City. The planting was coordinated by the California Urban Forests Council and West Coast Arborists with funding from @calfire as part of the California Climate Investments Program. Doug's planting team included a volunteer group of @Starbucks employees. The trees planted included Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), Strawberry (Arbutus 'Marina'), Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon), and Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis). @wcainc

2 weeks ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

Trees are homes! In a pine tree in Golden Gate Park, great horned owl chicks have recently been spotted exploring the area around their nest. Photo by Kwong Liew. @liewdesign @sfrecpark #protecttrees #urbanforest #treelove

2 weeks ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

Thanks Camp Collection for making Friends of the Urban Forest a beneficiary of your Earth Day tees! @shopcamp

2 weeks ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

On Saturday we had fun (and worked hard) at the Portola Garden District Earth Day Tree Planting Celebration. We led neighborhood residents and volunteers in planting new street trees in San Francisco's Portola neighborhood, and we did outreach and led tree-related games. Here are a couple of new FUF faces -- Shannon and Zeima -- flanking FUF veteran Mike.

2 weeks ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

Nature is the best medicine! For city dwellers, just 20 minutes of a "nature experience" significantly lowers stress, according to a new study by M. R. Hunter, B. W. Gillespie, and S. Y.-P. Chen in Frontiers in Psychology.

3 weeks ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

Scenes from the #SanFrancisco urban forest: Laidley Street in #GlenPark. 🌳❤️

3 weeks ago - @friendsoftheurbanforest

The sweet, then sad, story of the Broccoli Tree: in 2013, photographer Patrik Svedberg fell in love with a tree on the shore of lake Vättern, Sweden, which he walked by each day on the way to work. He posted a photo to Instagram and it got a lot of likes. One of his friends said the tree looked like broccoli. More photos, more likes, and he gave the tree its own instagram page: @thebroccolitree. The tree (and Patrik's many photos, showing the tree in various seasons and times of day) gained fans around the world. And then one day... Patrik visited the tree and saw that it had been fatally vandalized. It was removed soon after that. Was the vandal somehow motivated by the tree's fame? Nobody knows....

Recognition

"Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), in partnership with the City of San Francisco, used a community planning process to write a new urban forest management plan that identified street tree care as a major problem. Then FUF led the outreach plan to pass a ballot measure to allow the city to take back control of street trees. The Healthy Trees and Safe Sidewalk Initiative passed with 75 percent support and guarantees $19 million per year for street tree care in San Francisco." --Winner of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Champion of Trees Award, 2018, Arbor Day Foundation

San Francisco Examiner

SF looks to grow revenues for planting more street trees

The head of San Francisco’s new street tree program called for patience Wednesday, saying it will take an additional three years to get to all of the approximate 125,000 street trees citywide.

Meanwhile, street tree supporters are calling on The City to spend an additional $12 million a year to plant thousands of more street trees to grow the urban forest. Since the voter-approved StreetTreeSF program launched in July 2017, The City has pruned more than 20,000 street trees, or 19 percent of the total, using a team of contracted arborists.

Dan Flanagan, executive director of Friends of the Urban Forest, the nonprofit that backed the ballot measure and plants trees citywide, said he is pursuing funds for more tree plantings.

“We are going to people like Lyft and Uber, other corporations, saying, ‘Hey, if you really want to invest in your city, this a great way to do it,’” Flanagan said.

Friends of the Urban Forest

Common questions

What kind of tree should I plant in my neighborhood?

Because San Francisco has a variety of micro-climates and conditions, the location of your property is a big factor in choosing a suitable tree. A tree that thrives in the Mission neighborhood, for example, may not thrive in the Sunset.

Check our Urban Tree Key, or try looking it up on the Urban Forest Map, to see tree species that match your preferences or that are suited to certain conditions in your neighborhood.

What are the benefits of urban greening?

In addition to street trees and sidewalk gardens beautifying our urban environment, they provide so many other benefits that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and city planners regard them as part of a city’s “green infrastructure.” We must plant more trees and sidewalk gardens to take full advantage of the benefits available to us, such as:

• Street trees increase the “curb appeal” of properties. A study of the sale of houses in Portland, Oregon found that on average, street trees add 3% to the median sale price of a house and reduce its time-on-market by 1.7 days. • Trees produce oxygen, sequester carbon, clean the air and reduce global warming. Two medium-sized, healthy trees can supply the oxygen required for a single person for a year. • Trees and sidewalk gardens reduce flooding and water pollution. The average San Francisco street tree intercepts 1,006 gallons of rainwater a year.

Why did Friends of the Urban Forest get started?

Friends of the Urban Forest started with five volunteers: George Williams, Brian Fewer (who had recently retired as San Francisco’s superintendent of trees), Keith Davey, Jack Spring, and Fred Smith. After the City and County of San Francisco cut funding to urban forestry in the late 1970’s, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

The newly formed organization reached out to community members to organize their neighborhoods and start planting trees. FUF’s first tree planting took place on March 7, 1981 – California’s Arbor Day – in Noe Valley. Relying entirely on volunteers, FUF planted approximately 50 trees that day in empty street-tree-basins. A Glossy Privet at 3909 24th Street was the first one planted. Celebrity Eddie Albert participated, as well as State Senator Milton Marks, Jr. whose son, Milton Marks III, later became FUF’s executive director.

Friends of the Urban Forest

Where your money goes

$10

Provides transportation for one low-income teen to an environmental program

$25

Funds a T-Shirt, safety glasses, a canteen and equipment for one member of our Green Teen program

$50

Funds an Outward Bound program for one Green Teen

$100

Funds cross braces and support for ten trees

$5.0k

Funds the concrete removal from the sidewalk for a typical planting

$10k

Funds a planting day, which averages 50-60 trees planted in a neighborhood

$25k

Funds an entire 3-month tree planting lead-up, planting day, and 3-year care cycle