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Urban Forest Restoration


Jon Jainga | 206-233-5019 |

Work Crew

Awe-inspiring forests are part of the heritage and appeal of our city. They make our lives better by providing places to play, rest and contemplate. Half of Seattle’s city parkland is forested natural areas.

These forests need a little loving care from us. Urban pressures, like invasive plants and lack of regeneration of native trees, are diminishing the benefits Seattle’s citizens receive from our forested parkland. Since 1994, Seattle Parks has been at work enhancing the beauty, sustainability and safety of our publicly owned urban forest, which led to the creation of the Green Seattle Partnership (GSP) in 2005.

Every year generations of people take part in forest restoration work in the natural areas in coordination with Seattle Parks. Parks staff, nonprofit partners, private contracted companies, and, most importantly, volunteers have taken significant steps to ensure that forests remain a vibrant presence in our city. This unique program has been highlighted in several publications, notably Richard E. Loeb’s “Old Growth Urban Forests,” the Green Cities Research Alliance report, “Seattle's Forest Ecosystem Values,” and American Forests’ report, “Urban Forests Case Studies.”

The Department's Urban Forest Restoration Program implements vegetation management plans for many forested parks. We have documented landscape history and use, assessed vegetation composition and condition, and then outlined specific recommendations to return the forest to long-term health. Using a phased approach to restoration, staff coordinates removal of aggressive weeds and appropriate planting of native plant species. Data is collected annually and compared with goals to determine whether or not the forest health is progressing on a sustainable trajectory.

Now, halfway through the GSP 20-Year Plan, the City has seen over 700,000 volunteer hours, 169,000 trees planted, and 163 active forest stewards invested in 80 parks citywide. Thoughtful stewardship of these natural areas will ensure that future generations will enjoy and benefit from Seattle’s forests well into the future. GSP partners enroll between 40 and 100 acres into restoration every year. Seattle Parks hosts a reference map to show the progress towards the goal of restoring 2,500 acres of forested parkland, located at

Forests are living things and depend on our care. Our greenspaces provide some of the greatest direct benefits to people, but the forests also face more urban stresses such as weeds, hotter temperatures and greater pollution. Taking care of today’s trees and planting new ones for tomorrow will ensure the strength and health of our urban forest for the enjoyment of our grandchildren. Together we can preserve the splendor of the City’s trees for generations to come.

Updated September 25, 2015


More about Seattle Parks' forest management

Examples of parks where significant forest restoration is visible or underway include:

Major parks with recently completed vegetation management plans include:

Additional places where the program is actively developing plans include:

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