To maintain a healthy urban forest, it is first necessary to assess the present factors that contribute to the health of the trees; or that negatively impact them. It will then be through the Forest Enhancement process that the positive attributes can be continued and expanded and the negative ones eliminated or reduced.
The urban forest of Broward County is generally divided into two categories: 1) the Landscape Areas where trees have been purposely planted and are regularly maintained to enhance the surrounding residential, commercial, or institutional developments; and 2) Natural Areas that consist of preserved and enhanced native plant communities that function as an ecosystem and are maintained to the benefit of the whole. It is therefore necessary for Broward County and its partner municipalities to develop two different set of factors with which to assess the forest health. The Landscape Level Assessment will focus on Insect and Disease Impacts and Human and Environmental Stresses on the trees in the landscape. The Natural Area Assessment will alternatively focus more on Habitat Diversity and Invasive Exotic Plant Coverage with the native plant community.
Most of the urban forest in South Florida is “managed” by local and state agencies in order to ensure the health of the trees that comprise our forests. The management techniques include: providing irrigation; conducting remedial pruning; and occasionally fertilizing to enhance the poor soils in which the trees are often planted. In order for us to realize the health benefits we receive from trees – reducing air pollution, reducing noise pollution, saving energy and creating wildlife and plant diversity – we must, in turn, better ensure the health of our trees.
The University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) provides a wealth of information on measures that can be taken to improve tree health, among many other topics.
Much of the stress that trees must endure is human-caused. Whether it is planting the tree too deep, providing insufficient irrigation, placing too little or too much mulch over the root system, or failing to remove cables or wires used to stake a recently planted tree, resulting in girdling of the tree. The link below explains many of the common human stresses and how to correct them.
Trees in a natural system can generally adapt to environmental changes such as drought, flooding, wind storms, and infrequent cold weather. But landscape trees are often placed in undersized planters and exposed to the elements of wind and cold. Regular inspection of trees can detect problems caused by environmental stressors and correct them before they become damaging or fatal. An effective maintenance program, including the necessary follow-up care of mulching, fertilizing, and pruning is essential to good tree care.
Plant Health Care
INSECT & DISEASE STRESS
Trees that already have reduced defenses from human or environmental stress are more likely to be subject to plant pests, which include insects and diseases. Integrated Pest Management is a broad approach to suppressing pest populations while minimizing risks to human health and the environment. This includes controlling insects, plant pathogens and weeds. Integrated Pest Management allows for a safer means of controlling pests and ensuring a healthy forest.
The International Society of Arboriculture and the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences provide detailed information on Integrated Pest Management for the urban forest and an individual’s own backyard.
International Society of Arboriculture Insect and Disease
University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Yard Pests
Insects and Diseases of Trees in the South
Pest and Disease Directory
Florida Forest Service -- Forest Insects
The DRAFT Landscape Level Assessment and the Natural Area Assessment protocol can be accessed through these active links. Please try them for your specific forested system and let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org