Rochester UFMPCalling all Master Plans! Rochester City Forester and NYSUFC Executive Committee Member Brian Liberti shares the following intro from the most recent Rochester Urban Forest Master Plan. You can also see Ithaca’s Urban Forest Master Plan here.

We’d like to collect as many UF Master Plans from around the State as possible, so that communities can learn from one another. Please send yours to [email protected].  

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Rochester, New York, is its forest of trees. There are numerous tree-filled parks, and practically every avenue and street in the city is lined with trees. Even the city’s cemeteries, so often barren fields of funerary monuments, are veritable forests.

Trees have always been one of the most significant features of Rochester’s landscape. In the mid-1800s, Rochester was the leading nursery center in the world, and these nurseries provided thousands of street and park trees to the city. Such a horticultural heritage that delivers enormous beauty as well as ecological and economic benefits deserves our most careful attention, nurture, and preservation.

Natural events in the 20th century have jeopardized the health and longevity of our urban forest. Most notably a devastating ice storm in 1991 claimed 14,000 City-owned trees. Rochester responded to these disasters with organized efforts to stabilize and renew our treasured forest. In the case of the 1991 ice storm, the recovery efforts were massive and extended over several years. Planning and implementing that restoration underlined the need for an urban forest master plan. In 1992, therefore, an Urban Forest Technical Advisory Committee was appointed by the commissioner of Parks, Recreation, and Human Services. The volunteer committee, which included area horticultural experts and community representatives, was charged to assist the city forester in developing the first master plan. Regional and national experts also contributed to the effort. In the process, the Forestry Division’s history, policies, and management practices were evaluated; the future was envisioned and defined with comprehensive and progressive strategies. That effort was adopted on Arbor Day, 1998.

In 2012, this third edition of the plan was developed. This master plan reviews the unique history of urban forestry in our community, discusses the benefits of trees, describes Rochester’s urban forest, compares benchmarks established in the previous plans, details elements influencing that forest, states the city’s urban forest policy, and poses a series of challenges and recommendations. It is recommended that the master plan be revisited and updated every five to ten years.