“If you could create a new pathway that would guide cities to a more vibrant and healthy existence – with programs, policies, partnerships and resources to support thriving urban ecosystems – what would it look like?”
— Vibrant Cities report
Why is the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition moving this initiative forward?
Many organizations promote better management of urban natural resources, expanded tree canopy, use of natural systems to reduce air and water pollution, and better access to open space for neighborhood residents.
But SUFC is the only group that brings together the vast majority of these issues and interests. Its members include organizations representing landscape architects, nursery owners, arborists, foresters, city managers and executives, urban and regional planners, community-based organizations, outdoor advocates, national conservation organizations, community improvement initiatives, parks and public works executives, engineers and clean water action groups. The coalition is further supported by a growing network of private-sector businesses interested in healthier and greener communities.
Is SUFC an operating organization?
No. SUFC is a coalition and it does not operate programs. As a network of organizations with common interests, it facilitates the programs of its members, responds to mutual interests of members, and offers a platform to develop and pursue common goals. As such, SUFC itself cannot “implement” the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests recommendations, but rather can support and help coordinate the efforts of its members and partners to do so. By necessity, the Vibrant Communities Initiative fits within and supports the broader work of the SUFC network.
How is SUFC funded?
SUFC operates on a small budget funded by grants, member dues and corporate partnerships. The Vibrant Communities Initiative is funded, through its pilot phase, by a grant from the US Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program. These funds cover:
- planning costs and a modest SUFC staff (primarily a part-time project director), including consultants;
- extensive outreach efforts to engage the urban forestry sector and more wide-ranging stakeholders in the Vibrant Communities Initiative, expanding its reach and impact and facilitating new relationships among non-traditional partners to advance the spirit of the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests recommendations;
- a broad communications strategy to raise awareness about the Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests recommendations;
- an external scan of urban forestry communication campaigns and materials, and an analysis of gaps that could be filled;
- a preliminary assessment of SUFC member capacity and commitment to the advancement of the Vibrant Communities Initiative;
- a simple website and clearinghouse for the Initiative, primarily maintained by user-driven content;
- initiation of fundraising efforts to drive new financial resources to the urban forestry sector; and
- development of success measures and evaluation protocols.
Funding and staff for projects administered by SUFC members are provided by the members themselves – including those proposed as part of the Vibrant Communities Initiative.
What about all the different federal agencies involved in urban natural resources?
SUFC and its members maintain high-level working relationships and align their work with most agencies involved in urban forestry practice and research, green infrastructure, water quality and watershed protection, public health and transportation. SUFC is able to help its members unravel the knot of federal programs and maximize their impact on the ground.
How can Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests Task Force members and other allies remain engaged?
Task Force members and other supporters are encouraged to participate in the Initiative as their time and interests allow. SUFC will share regular Vibrant Communities updates with a broad group of stakeholders and will continue to seek feedback as the Initiative unfolds.