Functioning Community Forest

TreePeople has a long-range vision: to green Los Angeles by establishing a Functioning Community Forest in every neighborhood of the city.

What does it mean?

We coined the phrase Functioning Community Forest to refer to:

An urban community where local residents and businesspeople have joined together to transform their neighborhood into a sustainable ecosystem that functions like a healthy, natural forest.

Creating a Functioning Community Forest involves people engaging with each other to plant and care for trees, and to incorporate “forest-mimicking” technologies into their urban landscape.

 What does it look like?

  • Community members of all ages and backgrounds join together to take responsibility for the urban forest in their neighborhood.
  • Citizen Foresters – with training and support from TreePeople – lead the effort to mobilize neighborhood volunteers to plant and care for trees. 
  • Well-cared-for trees shade walkways, streets, buildings and recreation areas to reduce energy and water use.
  • The use of mulch feeds the soil with nutrients and helps it absorb and hold rainwater. 
  • Permeable paving replaces hard asphalt surfaces and enables rainwater to soak into the ground.
  • Downspouts direct rainwater toward the ground instead of onto pavement.
  • Raised berms create sunken gardens that trap rainwater and enable it to seep into the ground.
  • Swales – human-made trenches planted with native vegetation – slow the flow of rainwater to help it soak into the ground.
  • Rain barrels or cisterns store rainwater for use in dry seasons. 
  • Native and drought-tolerant plants and grasses reduce the need for irrigation.

How will it help?

Creating Functioning Community Forests throughout L.A. will help everyone in our city. Together, we can:

  • Increase our groundwater supplies, reducing the need for imported water.
  • Improve our air quality.
  • Decrease soil erosion and the destruction caused by landslides.
  • Reduce energy used for cooling our homes and businesses.
  • Reduce the effects of global warming.