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The US Forest Service, American Forests and the National Association of Regional Councils created Vibrant Cities Lab to help city managers, policymakers and advocates build thriving urban forest programs.

Users Guide to Vibrant Cities Lab

Trees are often an after-thought as professionals, planners, policymakers and advocates consider their community’s future. Why? Few people oppose healthy tree canopy in their community.  But many aren’t aware of the multiple benefits trees can provide. And even more may not know how to begin building an effective urban forestry program.

Vibrant Cities Lab is designed to help them discover how healthy tree canopy can enrich their own community and help guide them as they build an effective urban forestry program.

Research Syntheses

The research synthesized is vetted to be the most up-to-date and accurate. It conveys the complexity of tree canopy impacts to help with decision-making and maintenance budgets, not just the benefits.

Case Studies

Case studies have been chosen to move beyond the allure of a pretty landscape installation and instead focus on successful programs, laws, funding and management structures that can help institutionalize urban forestry for the long term.


Finally, the assessment tool and urban forestry toolkit synthesize many years of best practice analysis by academic researchers and professionals. These tools are designed to help community managers and advocates in jurisdictions of all sizes to determine their current situation and be guided through a process at their own pace to reach goals of comprehensive urban forest management.

Your Feedback

In the contact form below, we welcome your feedback regarding current content, as well as suggestions for future research syntheses and case studies. This website will be updated quarterly.


About Our Partnership

U.S. Forest Service

The Forest Service’s National Urban Forest Technology & Science Delivery Team is comprised of urban program staff from across their regions, working collaboratively to deliver quality urban natural resources science, technology, and information to improve the long-term sustainability of urban ecosystems. The team’s mission is to help inform environmental stewardship and sustainable, sound decisions about urban and community lands and the broader watershed for wildlife and people.

American Forests

American Forests is a nonprofit organization that has been protecting and restoring forests from cities to wildlands for more than 140 years. While it may be the nation’s oldest conservation organization, American Forests’ work today is more important than ever. Since 1990 alone, more than 50 million trees have been planted, helping to restore forests in dozens of cities in all 50 states, plus nearly 50 countries across the globe.

Together, these efforts recover hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, safeguard vital watersheds, absorb millions of tons of greenhouse gases, protect some of the most stunning landscapes in America and worldwide, and make our cities more sustainable, beautiful and livable.

National Association of Regional Councils

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) serves as the national voice for regionalism by advocating for regional cooperation as the most effective way to address a variety of community planning and development opportunities and issues.

NARC’s member organizations are comprised of multiple local governments that work together to serve American communities – large and small, urban and rural.

For nearly 50 years, NARC has represented the interests of its members and has advanced regional cooperation through effective interaction and advocacy with Congress, federal officials, and other related agencies and interest groups. NARC’s agenda includes transportation, economic and community development, the environment, public safety, emergency management, and a variety of community issues undertaken by its member organizations.