Table 2.

Practical ideal type operationalization table. Research methods are literature review, document analysis, and survey analysis. Survey analysis refers to the UFP Survey from Day et al. 2022.

Ideal type categoryResearch methodSource(s)Results
1. Essential Service to Society
1. Performs essential service to societyLiterature review; document analysis; survey analysisNesbitt et al. 2017; O’Herrin et al. 2018b; 2020 UFP Survey; Day et al. 2022Established evidence: The essential services provided by urban forests, and by extension those who manage them, are well documented in the literature. Urban forest professionals who responded to the 2020 UFP Survey consider that they have specialized expertise. Cities seek urban forestry expertise and many maintain urban forestry staff to provide essential services.
2. Society recognizes that profession performs essential serviceLiterature review; document analysisO’Herrin 2016; American Forests 2022a; Tree Canada 2022Emerging evidence: The proliferation of urban forestry non-governmental organizations (NGOs) indicates that society recognizes the value of urban forests, but may not recognize that urban forest professionals provide an essential service. Some, but not all, cities and towns employ professional urban foresters. The public is relatively unfamiliar with the urban forestry profession.
2. Body of Knowledge (BoK)
1. BoK is organized and accessible to practitionersDocument analysis; literature reviewPersonal observation; Miller et al. 2015; Arbor Day Foundation 2022b; Sustainable Forestry Initiative 2022; Web of Science Data accessed 2022Emerging evidence: The USDA Forest Service, many universities, and even some private foundations and companies maintain research units that produce and disseminate research findings. Attendance at annual conferences sponsored by NGOs in the field is increasing, and audiences are becoming more diverse. Urban forestry–related papers are published in multiple peer-reviewed journals, and urban forestry textbooks are available. However, there is no universally accepted BoK organized in one place.
2. BoK is updated regularlyDocument analysis; literature reviewBentsen et al. 2010; Krajter Ostoić and Konijnendijk van den Bosch 2015Emerging evidence: Two peer-reviewed research journals regularly publish research studies that advance the BoK and whose readership is focused largely on urban forestry. The number of papers published has multiplied significantly in recent decades. The transfer of this knowledge to an organized BoK is not as evident.
3. Practitioners steward BoK via their organizationDocument analysis; literature reviewKonijnendijk et al. 2006; Sustainable Forestry Initiative 2022Little to no evidence: Because there is no professional organization dedicated to urban forestry professionals, stewardship of the BoK is diffused across multiple organizations. Individual organizations advance the BoK based on their own perspectives and needs and the “niche” they occupy under the broader urban forestry discipline.
4. Practitioners and higher education expand BoK via research findingsDocument analysis; literature reviewUgolini et al. 2015; Vogt et al. 2016Emerging evidence: The nature and scope of the urban forestry BoK is often debated and analyzed. Researchers have explored the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the boundaries of emerging terminology.
5. BoK aligns degree accreditation, credentialing, and continuing educationDocument analysis; survey analysisProgram Learning Outcomes for University of British Columbia Bachelor of Urban Forestry 2019; 2020 UFP SurveyLittle to no evidence: Because there is no dedicated urban forestry credential available, urban forest professionals have cobbled together an assortment of different credentials in order to meet their needs and advance their careers. The Society of American Foresters (SAF) and the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board (CFAB) have begun to accredit university urban forestry programs, but not on the scale of traditional forestry ones. Individual programs in higher education develop program learning outcomes based upon their own niche or interpretation.
3. Higher Education
1. Accreditation applies BoK to degree programsDocument analysis; literature review; personal observationWiseman and Day 2010; SAF 2021; CFAB 2022; SAF 2022a; Personal observationsEmerging evidence: Both the SAF and the CFAB accredit degree programs in urban forestry, but these standards may not include the full array of urban forest professional knowledge and its niches. Relatively few programs are accredited. Many programs accredited under the forestry standard by SAF have urban forestry as a subcategory, but not as a fully developed program that can meet the specialized urban forestry standard.
2. Accreditation sets minimum quality of formal higher educationDocument analysis; personal observationWiseman and Day 2010; SAF 2021; CFAB 2022; Personal observationsEmerging evidence: Both CFAB and SAF accreditation processes have stringent quality standards; however, the standards may not fully capture the full array of urban forest professional knowledge.
3. Accreditation aligns university curricula with societal and employer needsLiterature review; document analysisO’Herrin et al. 2018b; O’Herrin et al. 2020; Association of British Columbia Professional Foresters 2021; Ontario Professional Foresters Association 2022Little or no evidence: Jobs analyses show no employers require or even mention accredited degrees or credentials that result from this in the US. In Canada, Registered Professional Forester (RPF) credentials do not distinguish between urban forestry and traditional forestry. There is little evidence of significant communication between employers of urban forest professionals and professional organizations about the link between university curricula and employer needs.
4. Credentialing
1. Practitioners provide their own credentialing via their organizationsDocument analysis; literature review; survey analysisO’Herrin et al. 2020; 2020 UFP Survey; see Figures S1 and S2Little to no evidence: No dedicated urban forestry credential with broad acceptance and usage is provided by an organization of urban foresters. Some credentials exist with limited uptake, such as credentials at state/provincial levels or with a more specialized scope. Professionals also voice support for the creation of a credential and professional organization for urban forestry.
2. Credentials set a minimum level of competencySurvey analysis2020 UFP SurveyLittle to no evidence: Without specific credentials for urban forestry, there can be no minimum level of competency set specific to urban forestry.
3. Credentialing enforces ethical accountabilityDocument analysisISA 2022a; SMA 2022Little to no evidence: See 4.1; without specific credentials for urban forestry, there can be no enforcement of ethical accountability specific to urban forestry.
4. Profession self-regulates credentialsSurvey analysis2020 UFP Survey; see Tables S1 and S3Emerging evidence: A majority of surveyed urban forest professionals hold credentials of allied professions which are regulated by allied professionals. However, there is strong participation and contribution to these credentialing organizations by urban forest professionals.
5. Public Trust
1. Professional reputation and standing in society are monitoredDocument analysis; literature reviewJanse and Konijnendijk 2007; Baur et al. 2016Emerging evidence: Periodic studies have attempted to gauge public understanding and support for urban forestry, but these have typically been geographically limited.
2. Public understanding and awareness of profession are promotedDocument analysis; literature reviewTrees Are Good 2022; Vibrant Cities Lab 2022Emerging evidence: NGOs such as American Forests, the Arbor Day Foundation, and the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) have established public outreach programs that advance understanding of urban trees and their benefits, but do not explicitly focus on urban forest professionals.
3. Member-serving organization, employers, practitioners, and higher education coordinate to manage public imagePersonal observation; document analysisPersonal observation; Trees Are Good 2022; Vibrant Cities Lab 2022Little to no evidence: There is no membership organization centrally aligned with urban forestry. Therefore, while there are efforts to advance the public image of some aspects of urban forestry, these efforts are aligned with the needs of the particular organization sponsoring the initiative and not necessarily with urban forest professionals.
6. Recruitment
1. Youth and diverse identities proactively recruited into professionDocument analysis; literature reviewO’Herrin 2016; O’Herrin et al. 2018a; O’Herrin et al. 2020; ADF 2022a; ISA 2022bLittle to no evidence: There is no evidence of coordinated efforts to raise awareness of urban forestry as a career; instead, the profession leans on forestry and arboriculture. Students lack awareness of urban forestry and nature as career options.
2. Member-serving organization, employers, practitioners, and higher education collaborate on recruitmentDocument analysis; literature review; personal observationO’Herrin et al. 2018b; American Forests 2022b; Project Learning Tree Canada 2022; Vibrant Cities Lab 2022Emerging evidence: There is limited evidence of leadership from national organizations in the area of recruitment into urban forestry and limited recruitment pipelines to serve as models. Success seems limited to localized and isolated cases.
7. Retention and Advancement
1. Employment trends are monitoredDocument analysis; literature review; personal observationO’Herrin et al. 2018b; O’Herrin et al. 2020Little to no evidence: There is very little prior literature on monitoring of employment trends. Urban forestry is persistently conflated with arboriculture, and the terms are used interchangeably and overlapping—”urban forestry” remains undefined and underutilized.
2. Career ladder and advancement opportunities are definedDocument analysis; literature review; personal observationO’Herrin et al. 2018bLittle to no evidence: Urban forestry lacks entry-level jobs; commercial arboriculture largely serves that role, which likely filters out desirable potential recruits.
3. Professional development programs are informed by employment trendsDocument analysis; literature review; personal observationO’Herrin et al. 2018b; Green Communities Leadership Institute 2022; Municipal Forestry Institute 2022Little to no evidence: Urban forestry has limited professional development programs (Municipal Forestry Institute; Green Communities Leadership Institute) and these do not maintain formalized connections to trends in professional practice.
8. Professional Organization
1. Practitioners form and maintain a member-serving organizationSurvey analysis2020 UFP Survey; see Tables S1, S2, and S3Emerging evidence: No professional membership organization has been formed and maintained specifically by and for urban foresters in the US and Canada. Urban foresters primarily belong to several allied professional organizations who serve them as a subset of their members, and/or to informal, local urban forestry networking groups.
2. Member-serving organization is dedicated to advancing the professionDocument analysisCIF 2022; ISA 2022c; SAF 2022b; see Table S1Little to no evidence: There is no specific organization in the US and/or Canada dedicated to advancing the profession of urban forestry. Certain allied professional organizations include urban forestry within their programs, though they are primarily composed of allied professionals who prioritize their own profession.
3. Organization mediates the other 7 ideals listed hereSee analysis of ideals 1–7; document analysisSee analysis of ideals 1–7; see Table S2Emerging evidence: There are organizations dedicated to urban forestry who mediate other ideals for the profession of urban forestry (e.g., see 2.1 and 2.2); however, none is a member-serving organization explicitly dedicated to advancing urban forestry as a profession, since they are focused on each of their flagship credentials and programs.
4. Organization provides conferences, journals, and other forums for networking and dialogueDocument analysis; literature review; personal observationO’Herrin et al. 2020; ADF 2022b; CUFC 2022; Green Communities Leadership Institute 2022; Municipal Forestry Institute 2022; see Table S2Emerging evidence: Many urban forestry conferences, journals, and other forums for networking exist and have been initiated. They are provided by educational and research institutions, research and extension arms of government agencies, NGOs, and allied professional organizations.