About the Urban Forestry Committee

The Urban Forestry Committee is charged with advising on the management and maintenance of all existing and new trees and shrubs on all public grounds and public ways in Somerville.

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Northern red oak

Somerville Celebrates Arbor Day

July 1, 2021
5 - 7 p.m. at Prospect Hill Park

Each year, a day is set aside to recognize our trees and the important role they play in our ecosystem. This year, Somerville Arbor Day will be celebrated on July 1, 2021. The Urban Forestry Committee (UFC), the City of Somerville, and collaborators have been working on ways to show appreciation for our hard-working city trees.

It is critical to plant trees whenever possible, and it is equally important to recognize our mature trees. Trees can live to be very old, by human standards. Sugar maples and white oaks, for example, may live for centuries. When you see a large maple or oak in your neighborhood, imagine what might have been going on when it was planted… maybe it was before Somerville City Hall was built, or perhaps it was at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution!

Somerville’s Remarkable Trees: a R.O.O.T and UFC collaboration
The UFC is proud to be working with Somerville R.O.O.T. (Recognizing Our Oldest Trees) toward reaching our shared goal of encouraging fellow residents to become more aware of trees and the environmental benefits they provide. Together, we are launching a ‘Remarkable Tree’ program. Residents of Somerville can nominate a city tree, public or private, that is special to them. Nominated trees will be placed on a shared ‘walking map’ of the city so that everyone can visit and look at these remarkable trees! To nominate a tree, fill out the form https://tinyurl.com/nominateatree. The link to the map is provided on the form and it can also be found here https://tinyurl.com/somervilletreemap.

R.O.O.T. honors and recognizes these long-lived trees. We will be showing off the many beautiful photos that R.O.O.T. participants have gathered of our most revered trees. Watch for large vinyl banners as part of a moving, outdoor display in several areas around Somerville:

July - Prospect Hill Park
August - Foss Park
September - Lincoln Park

Stop by and look at these stunning photos of some of Somerville’s oldest residents and nominate a remarkable tree of your own by following the instructions on the banner.

For information on how to become more involved in building and caring for our urban canopy and green space, please contact us at [email protected].

Happy Arbor Day!
The Urban Forestry Committee

Celebrate Spring with the Urban Forestry Committee

Spring, 2021

The transition from winter to spring is a wondrous time and makes us realize that our ecosystem is indeed very special. The earth is rousing from its winter slumber: birds are migrating to breeding grounds, insects are preparing to emerge, and leaves and flowers are bursting on our trees. Our city trees provide us with a wide range of benefits: from removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to producing oxygen; from providing food and habitat for wildlife to calming our minds.

The Urban Forestry Committee and collaborators have been developing ways to celebrate our hard-working city trees. Read on to learn more!

Adopt-a-Tree: Help Us Care for Young and Newly-Planted Trees

Watering is the most important thing you can do to help a young tree. Young trees require 15-20 gallons of water each week between May-October, even more during hot summer months. Somerville’s most recently planted trees are under warranty and are watered by a contractor, but extra attention is critical during hot weather. This special care and consideration are critical to ensure the tree’s establishment and future success.

Look for colorful “Adopt me!” tags on newly planted trees in your neighborhood. Scan the QR code on the tag to go through the steps to adopt the tree….name it, water it, love it! There is also an option to participate in citizen science work by monitoring insects that visit the tree.

By participating, you will make an important contribution to our understanding of the critical relationship between trees and insects. It is done once or twice per month. This is fun, easy, and we will train you!

Photo shows a tree with an "Adopt me!" QR code tag.

“The Trees Out Our Window”: Arbor Day Poster Contest

To kick off the Arbor Day activities this year, Somerville fifth-graders were invited by the City’s Urban Forestry Committee (UFC) to participate in the 2021 "The Trees Out Our Window" Arbor Day poster contest, sponsored in part by the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.

Recognizing the limitations placed on our schools because of the pandemic, the UFC developed a way for Somerville’s fifth-grade students to remotely participate in this event. This activity provided the opportunity for our children to observe surrounding trees and gain more understanding of the important role that trees play in our city. It was a fun and rewarding experience!

Check out the winners of the poster contest below:

Three winning pieces of Arbor Day artwork created by City children

View all of the submitted poster entries in the gallery below:

Arbor Day Poster Contest Slideshow

  • Chris Dwan, Co-Chair
  • Althea Northcross, Co-Chair
  • Tori Antonino
  • Henry Ayanna, Youth Member
  • Jennifer Clifford
  • Conor Guidarelli
  • Sharon Komorow
  • Amy Mertl
  • Sarah Sweeting, Youth Member
  • Vanessa Boukili (Ex-Officio), Senior Urban Forestry and Landscape Planner
  • Mark Lawhorne (Ex-Officio), Tree Warden

The Commission generally meets once per month, on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Due to COVID-19 virus containment efforts, these meetings are currently being held remotely.
Click here to view Urban Forestry meeting agendas and minutes.

The Purpose & Duties of the Urban Forestry Committee are ordained in the City of Somerville Tree Preservation Ordinance (Ordinance number 2019-15).

Purpose: The Urban Forestry Committee will be charged with advising with respect to the management and maintenance of all existing and new trees and shrubs on all public grounds and public ways of the City of Somerville.

Duties: The Urban Forestry Committee shall:

a) Review planting policies for trees and shrubs on public grounds and public ways of the City of Somerville, appraise the appropriateness of such plantings, their placement, and the type of maintenance necessary. The Urban Forestry Committee shall also review those planting proposals which it deems significant for trees and shrubs on public grounds and public ways of the City of Somerville.

b) This Committee shall have the ability to comment during any City of Somerville permitting review process.

c) This Committee may elect to review issues related to the health, effective maintenance, and protection of existing trees and shrubs on public grounds and public ways of the City of Somerville, recommend solutions to any problems identified with such plantings, update the tree inventory with detailed information, and support all public education and outreach by:

i) Promoting knowledge and awareness of the benefits of trees in the City.

ii) Developing and maintaining a website;

iii) Developing and maintaining a noteworthy tree program;

iv) Developing educational materials regarding best management practices for tree care;

v) Supporting City staff in establishing a volunteer adopt-a-tree program;

vi) Supporting City staff during Arbor Day Celebrations; and

vii) Considering and recommending incentives for tree planting and maintenance.

d) Upon request of the applicant, this Committee shall consider and make recommendations to the Tree Warden on waivers for any required replantings or payments associated with the issuance of a Tree Permit.

e) This Committee may keep records of trees planted and removed within the City of Somerville and may issue regular reports on the overall status of the City’s urban canopy.