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Community Forestry and Arboriculture


Community forestry is the art and science of managing individual trees, tree stands, forests, and green spaces. A community forester is involved in assessment and appraisal of urban trees and sites, community planning and design decisions related to trees, community engagement and education, developing ordinances for tree protection, maintaining reliable and safe utility lines, and more. Community foresters often work with a variety of local leaders to sustainably protect and manage trees.

Arboriculture is the cultivation, health care, and management of individual trees in rural, suburban, and urban places, including trees that grow among community hardscapes, urban canyons, streets, highways, yards, parks, cemeteries, schools, rights-of-way, utility lines, and buildings. Through knowledge of tree biology and physiology, tree biomechanics, maintenance, health care and risk assessment, arborists address the range of challenges faced by trees in constrained, human-engineered environments. Arborists also use new technology to improve effectiveness and safety on the job, such as drone technology, spatial analysis data and software, and resistance-measuring devices.

Graduates gather resident input on trees, sites, and local environmental issues, and may work as:

  • Tree, forest, and environmental advocates for interest groups and nongovernmental organizations
  • Municipal foresters
  • Commercial forest health care providers
  • Community planners, designers, and consultants

Graduates are also encouraged to become certified arborists through the International Society of Arboriculture. Arborists may work for:

  • Commercial tree health care and estate management firms
  • Municipal governments
  • Non-government organizations
  • Utility providers


Community Forestry and Arboriculture can be pursued under the MNR, MS, and PhD degree programs. To pursue COFA as an official Area of Emphasis, the following courses are required for each degree:

MNR COFA requirements

MS COFA requirements

PhD COFA requirements


For general questions about pursuing a graduate degree at Warnell, contact a member of the graduate team (sidebar, right). Prospective students should also contact faculty members for questions specific to this disciplinary area. Please check faculty members’ personal pages (linked below) for information about their individual research interests and projects to ensure that you are contacting the most relevant ones.

Rebecca Abney
Kim Coder
Jason Gordon