Roles played by urban forestry and greenspace systems in a rapidly changing world.

Faculty: Forestry
Subject: Urban Forestry
Year / Level: 1
Theme(s): Climate Science; Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation


Students will be introduced to the interdisciplinary field of urban forestry and its implementation in Canada and across the world. They will learn the principles behind urban forest governance, urban forest planning and green-space management, and their role in contributing to human health and wellbeing, more vibrant and attractive cities, improved ecosystem functioning, and building resiliency to an uncertain and changing climate. Students will apply knowledge gained through classroom instruction, reading assignments and field trips to assess and critique contemporary urban forest case studies and conduct an urban forest management planning project. Exercises will be used throughout the course to provide a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges faced by urban forest managers and stewards.

This is an introductory course to Urban Forestry, exploring the roles played by urban forestry and greenspace systems in a rapidly changing world. Topics include the impacts of urbanization on urban nature and urban ecology, history and evolution of urban forestry, urban forest conservation, urban forest management, climate change, society and human well-being, design and planning, urban/rural interface issues, and urban forest governance and policy.



This course introduces concepts and skills through lectures, field trips, and assignments. Students are introduced to key aspects of the theory and practice of urban forestry and to essential practical skills such as plant and tree identification, arboriculture, basic planning and design, resource planning, and community involvement. Communication skills are a fundamental component of this course and students will develop their communication skills through the use of various tools including writing, visual aids and group work. Collaborative decision-making and social engagement techniques will be introduced.

The student will be able to:

  • Read with intent as a method to efficiently synthesize and summarize information
  • Articulate questions necessary to understand complex urban environments and relationships between urban greenery, urban trees and people, at various scales
  • Gather and use information during site visits and field trips for use in projects and assignments
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the various players involved in urban forest governance, planning and management
  • Assess potential short and long-term impacts of risk mitigation and maintenance / monitoring strategies
  • Evaluate the merits and disadvantages of a site-specific urban forest management plan, design/build project, tree planting program or ecological restoration initiative.



The course content will be delivered by two principal instructors supplemented by selected guest lecturers. The course is built around four major themes.

I. Urban Forestry History, Concepts, and Elements of the Urban Forest

  • Urbanization and the context of urban forestry
  • History and concept of urban forestry
  • Urban trees, urban forest resources, and urban forest typology
  • Urban ecology and ecosystem-based adaptation
  • Urban growing conditions and urban sites
  • Urban forestry as an interdisciplinary field and profession
  • Working as an urban forestry professional

II. Ecosystem Services provided by Urban Forests and Urban Green Infrastructure

  • Urban forest benefits:
    • Supporting services of urban forests
    • Provisioning and regulating services of urban forests
    • Cultural services of urban forests
  • The public health impacts of urban forests
  • Green infrastructure and urban green architecture + engineering

III. Urban Forest Governance

  • Discourses and storylines in urban forestry
  • Actors and alliances, community engagement
  • Resources in urban forest governance
  • Rules of the game and processes
  • Urban forest governance across the globe

IV. Urban Forest Management

  • The planning process, land use planning
  • Urban forest management planning and practice
  • Urban forest management and climate change
  • Arboriculture



Check SSC to see if the course is currently offered and if you meet pre-requisites etc.

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Email the course instructor with your questions and to request a syllabus.


Andrew Almas

"I encourage students to seek guidance on cultivating their urban forestry interests and future career paths."