This article was featured in the 2022 Spring Newsletter by, Rob Williams and Megan Pistolese-Shaw-SLELO PRISM. 

Healthy trees play an important role in urban settings. They provide shade in the summer and act as a wind barrier in colder seasons. They reduce pollution from urban runoff and beautify our streets and yards. Climate change and invasive species threaten the health of the street trees that make up our parks and urban forests.

In recognition of the importance healthy trees play in our communities, our Terrestrial Restoration and Resiliency Coordinator Robert Smith along with the NYS DEC, and several partners, continue to help our communities sustain urban forest health through an Urban Forest Sustainability Initiative (UFSI). This initiative provides guidance on how to enhance the resiliency of urban forests to climate change and invasive forest pests by maintaining diverse, climate adaptable, and invasive species resistant trees.

In addition to supporting tree plantings, the UFSI offers an Urban Forest Sustainability Guide that enables communities to develop community tree programs that include climate adaptability, carbon storage, tree diversity, and invasive species components. 

To date, the communities of Watertown, Massena, Canton, and Pulaski have participated in the UFSI, planting over 108 trees. According to Rob Williams, PRISM Director “This is a great way for people in our communities to connect and do meaningful work in an outdoor setting”. Learn more about how these communities are participating in the UFSI.

Community members can further engage in urban forest health by taking a  Pledge to Protect their community’s urban forests from invasive species. After taking the pledge, they will receive a monthly email that showcases simple actions they can take to fulfill their pledge. The Pledge to Protect also offers virtual toolboxes with a plethora of resources to help pledgers prevent the spread of invasives, manage invasives on their own property, and opportunities to get involved. The Community Protector’s Toolbox offers resources specifically themed towards preventing the spread of and managing invasives in an urban setting.  Unlock these resources by taking the Pledge to Protect at,


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