Tuesday, September 21, 2010

City of Atlanta Receives Municipal Forestry Accreditation from the Society of Municipal Arborists

Atlanta is first municipality in Georgia; fifth in the nation

The City of Atlanta is the latest community to join a prestigious group of municipalities to be accredited by the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA.) SMA Accreditation is the highest honor for municipal urban forestry programs, obtained by following a professional approach to tree management.

SMA Accredited programs have a certified municipal specialist on staff, have an approved Local Forest Master Plan, are Tree City USA growth award recipients, show private contract preference for accredited tree care companies, adhere to industry standards for safety and performance, and adhere to SMA’s Code of Ethics.

“The SMA accreditation is yet another example of the City of Atlanta’s commitment to excellence,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “I commend the members of the city’s Arborist Division and the Office of Parks for their dedication and willingness to sharpen their skills and achieve the highest professional standards for the benefit of the citizens of Atlanta.”

The City of Atlanta is the first municipality to be accredited in the state of Georgia, and fifth nationwide, joining the cities of Aspen, Colorado; Glencoe, Illinois; Arlington, Texas; and Downers Grove, Illinois. The SMA accreditation is renewable every five years.

To obtain SMA accreditation, the Department of Planning and Community Development met the following requirements:

Program must have at least one ISA Certified Arborist (ISA certification requires a 4-hour comprehensive examination) on staff, with an ISA Certified Municipal Specialist preferred (a specialist is a higher level designation that requires passing an additional two-hour exam focused exclusively on municipal arboriculture).
Program must have a Forest Master Plan approved by appropriate local body.
Program must be a current Tree City USA (this criterion must be maintained annually to maintain accreditation).
Program must have a National Arbor Day Foundation Growth Award, in at least one of the past five years.
Program must show preference to Tree Care Industry Association Accredited tree care companies when private arborists are contracted.
Program must incorporate American National Safety Institute (ANSI) Z133.1 safety standards.
Program must incorporate ANSI A300 tree care performance standards.
Program must pledge adherence to the SMA Code of Ethics and to promote SMA objectives.

With a growing appreciation for the value of green infrastructure, communities across the nation are taking steps to maintain their trees, which unlike other parts of a city’s infrastructure, actually increase in value. A healthy urban forest provides many benefits for cities, including beautification, reduction of the urban heat island effect, reduction of stormwater runoff, reduction of air pollution, reduction of energy costs through increased shade over buildings, improved wildlife habitat, and mitigation of overall urban environmental impact. In addition, research has shown that city trees can improve real estate values, attract shoppers, improve worker productivity, reduce crime, reduce hospital stay, and improve children’s school performance.

“This accreditation recognizes the dedication that Mayor Kasim Reed and the city’s arborists have given to the City of Atlanta and the care of its urban forest,” said SMA President Gene Hyde. “By adhering to accreditation standards and following best management practices, your urban forest will continue to grow in value and benefit the citizens of Atlanta for generations to come.”

About the City of Atlanta’s Arboricultural Programs
The City of Atlanta Arborist Division is housed within the Department of Planning and Community Development, led by Commissioner James Shelby. The Arborist Division is responsible for trees located on private property. There are three field arborists (two permanent), conducting 3,500 – 4,000 site inspections annually. Six members of staff are International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborists. Of those, there is one ISA Municipal Specialist. He is one of five in the state of GA. One staff member is a Certified Tree Risk Assessor. The Office of Parks is housed within the Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs and has two ISA Certified Arborists on staff. The Office of Parks is responsible for trees located in city parks and other public space.

About SMA 

The Society of Municipal Arborists (www.urban-forestry.com) is a not-for-profit international organization of municipal arborists, urban and community foresters, members of tree boards, tree wardens, consultants, municipal officials, and students who are involved in the professional management of trees where over 114 million people live, work, and play. SMA leads the world in building the confidence, competence, and camaraderie of the family of professionals who create and sustain community forests.

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