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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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

By The Numbers

The impact


Street trees planted since FUF started in 1981


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


Species of trees catalogued in the San Francisco Urban Forest Map


For Friends of the Urban Forest

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.

From Winner of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Champion of Trees Award, 2018, Arbor Day Foundation.

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



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.


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

Where your dollars go


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


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


Funds an Outward Bound program for one Green Teen


Funds cross braces and support for ten trees


Funds the concrete removal from the sidewalk for a typical planting


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


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

Friends of the Urban Forest

Key Facts and Figures


Annual Budget
Year ended June 2017
Program Spend
Fundraising Spend
Management Spend
Executive Director
Dan Flanagan
San Francisco, CA
# Employees
# Volunteers


Latest posts by Friends of the Urban Forest

@friendsoftheurbanforest TREE LOVE: The design of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch was unveiled today, and it's shaped like a cherry blossom, Japan’s best-loved flower. With the arrival of the cherry blossom season in March 2020, the Olympic Torch commence its journey across Japan 🌸Cherry trees are much loved here in San Francisco too! #Tokyo2020 #TorchRelay #olympicflame

17 hours ago

@friendsoftheurbanforest Happy first day of spring / vernal equinox / supermoon! 🌼🦋🌳🌺🐝🌱❤️😀

21 hours ago

@friendsoftheurbanforest Richard Hood sent us these before-and-after photos of the 300 block of Lexington Street in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood, where he and his wife have lived since 1991. In the 1970s, as shown at top (image from OpenSFHistory), trees are nowhere to be seen. What a difference!

1 day ago

@friendsoftheurbanforest When volunteers gather for our Saturday morning plantings, they're treated to delicious bagels courtesy of House of Bagels. We're grateful to this longtime #RichmondDistrict institution for supporting the greening of San Francisco! (Check out their new location at 325 Mason Street). @sfhob

1 day ago

@friendsoftheurbanforest Thanks to everyone who came out for the #ArborDay Eco Fair! Hundreds of volunteers planted trees and improved San Francisco's neighborhoods. 🌳🌲❤️😎💪 @SFPublicWorks @AhshaSafai @RecologySF @SFEnvironment @SFGov @SFRecPark @LondonBreed @DavidChiu.SF

4 days ago

@friendsoftheurbanforest We thank Union Bank for a gift of $5,000 in support of our work greening #SanFrancisco. 🌳🌲❤️😀

5 days ago

@friendsoftheurbanforest This glorious Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) is in the Outer Sunset neighborhood. Photo by Arnie Davis.

1 week ago

@friendsoftheurbanforest Sidewalk garden CENTURY PLUS! Over the weekend, in the Castro and Dolores Heights, Friends of the Urban Forest completed its 100th sidewalk garden project in San Francisco! AND we have now transformed a total of 100,000 square feet of concrete with sidewalk gardens! Congrats and thanks to all the volunteers, donors, property owners, grant-makers, and others who have contributed to our efforts to create the "under-story" of San Francisco's urban forest.

1 week ago

@friendsoftheurbanforest Parking lots that are shaded by trees reduce hydrocarbon emissions from vehicles. #UrbanTrees #TreeFacts #GreenInfrastructure

1 week ago

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San Francisco Examiner, November 14 2018

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.

FAQs about Friends of the Urban Forest

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.

In the Fund

Greener San Francisco

"The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value." -- Theodore Roosevelt