Green Communities Center

Planning the Urban Forest

A One-Day Workshop for City and County Planners, Planning Officials, and Consultants, plus Allied Professionals

Green infrastructure is an essential element of a sustainable community, and its core is the urban forest. Learn what constitutes the urban forest, how to document and quantify its social, environmental, economic, and other benefits, and how to integrate all these concerns and priorities into all aspects of the local and regional planning process. This one-day workshop will help you reposition trees as a strategic investment for your community's future.

Developed cooperatively between the American Planning Association and the U.S. Forest Service, this course introduces planners and other professionals to the core principles and best practices of planning the urban forest and the technologies that can help them do a better job.


Planning the Urban Forest is team-taught by an urban forestry professional with background in urban planning and a professional urban planner with background in landscape architecture. Working together with a local hosting organization, they incorporate local speakers and input into each workshop, so that content is both nationally produced and current as well as locally relevant. The course includes programmed small group exercises in which participants can work with the concepts presented and think through some of the challenges of planning the urban forest in their own communities.

As part of the development of this workshop, the Pennsylvania APA Chapter hosted a pilot workshop in Lancaster in October 2010, after which the course was refined on the basis of feedback from participants. The course subsequently debuted in final form as a four-hour workshop at the APA National Planning Conference in Boston on Saturday, April 9, 2011.

Subsequently, the Texas Forest Service hoted the first post-rollout workshop in Waco on June 2, 2011.

More information is available from the Texas Forest Service. Contact Jim Carse at

This workshop is now available to any organization or APA chapter willing to host it. Host organizations are expected to cover all costs for the trainers, materials, and facilities; in most cases, organizations will do this through registration fees. Organizations are encouraged to contact APA for more information on logistics, scheduling, budgeting, and arrangements with trainers.

Course Structure

View a detailed course outline (pdf)


Robert LaverneRobert J. Laverne serves as the Manager of Education and Training for the Davey Tree Expert Company. Laverne is responsible for keeping Davey's 6,000 employees knowledgeable in all aspects of arboriculture and the plant health care sciences. He also conducts research on the benefits of urban trees, particularly on the impact of trees to residential energy use through shading and reduction of wind speed, and of the economic impacts of trees on commercial properties.

Laverne is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Urban Studies at Cleveland State University where his focus is on integrating natural resources into urban planning. Laverne's background includes degrees in biology (University of Michigan) and forestry (Michigan Technological University), and a master's degree in remote sensing (University of Michigan).

He is a Board Certified Master Arborist (ISA) and a Registered Consulting Arborist (ASCA). He also serves on the Advisory Board for the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University.

David Rouse, AICPDavid C. Rouse, AICP, is a certified planner and registered landscape architect with 30 years of experience in community planning, design, and implementation. He is currently Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services at APA. Previously, he served as a principal of Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC (WRT), leading the firm's national city and regional planning practice.

Rouse has a special interest in and unique perspective on issues related to urban forestry and green infrastructure derived from his background in both planning and landscape architecture. He has addressed these issues in many comprehensive plan elements (current clients include Albany, New York; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Austin, Texas), in stand-alone plans (e.g., the Atlanta Greenspace Plan and Lancaster County Green Infrastructure Plan), and in implementing ordinances (current projects include a Tree Protection Ordinance review for Atlanta and landscaping and tree protection regulations for the new Philadelphia Zoning Code).

Rouse's work has been recognized with numerous awards, such as the Overall Excellence in Smart Growth Award awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, for Envision Lancaster County. In addition to the Green Infrastructure Plan, Rouse led WRT's work on the Growth Management Plan, two multi-municipal comprehensive plans, and several other projects in Lancaster County.

APA wishes to thank both Davey Tree Expert Co. and WRT for their support of this project.

Training Workshop Inquiries

Contact Jim Schwab, AICP, Project Manager, at