Palo Alto's Urban Forest


What makes up our urban forest?

The Urban Forestry Section maintains nearly 66,000 trees of Palo Alto’s urban forest. The urban forest consists of all trees in the City both public and private street trees, park trees, forested park-lands and trees on private property.

Why is our urban forest important?

Trees positively affect our lives and are a valuable rare component of the city’s green infrastructure that increases in value over time. Trees provide community, environmental, and economic benefits, from reducing the effects of urban density to increasing property values and providing ecological benefits such as storm water mitigation, air pollutant removal, and greenhouse gas sequestration. Trees provide our area wildlife with food, shelter and a transportation corridor. Trees directly improve the quality of life for Palo Alto.

How does the City of Palo Alto protect this resource?

The Urban Forestry Section is led by Urban Forester Walter Passmore. Resources such as the Urban Forest Master Plan, the Tree Technical Manual and city ordinances help determine how residents, developers, city officials and city staff interact with the urban forest. City Staff, in-house tree crews, and contractors plant, prune, maintain, and remove public trees; clear vegetation from utility lines; issue tree permits and monitor tree protection for development and capital improvement projects; field resident questions and requests; and attend to tree emergencies. The division partners with local environmental nonprofit Canopy, who engages the community in stewardship of the urban forest with young tree care efforts, tree education programs, and more.

We love trees!

In 2018 Palo Alto was accredited by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA for the 31st consecutive year, and in 2019 as a Tree Line USA for 5th consecutive year. In August 2016, the City of Palo Alto became the 15th municipality in the US and Canada to receive accreditation from the Society of Municipal Arborists, the highest recognition for municipal urban forestry programs.