Department of Public Works

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What do Tree Wardens Do?

A Tree Warden is a person who cares for all the shade trees on public lands in your town, such as parks, town commons, public streets, schools, and town forests.

You may not know this, but since the late 1890's, all cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must have a Tree Warden to care for trees on public property, according to our General Laws.

Part of the job of a Tree Warden that you might see on your way to work or to the store includes, but is not limited to, pruning trees on streets and in parks, taking down trees damaged by storms or disease & planting new trees. Count the number of miles of streets in your city and town, or try to count the number of shade trees in a city block and you will understand a little of the scope of a Tree Warden's job!

But today, the job of Tree Warden is not only physically challenging but requires college level training in Arboriculture (the science of tree care). An important public trust, today Tree Wardens often perform services with other community resources committed to the preservation of natural resources, community image and the development of Urban Forestry Programs. You might be surprised to learn that property values and the quality of life in your community are a direct result of the work of your Tree Warden.

On a day-to-day basis a Tree Warden must plan, organize, control and be accountable for all authorized activities in the urban forest. There is a great deal of management responsibility in being a Tree Warden. Tree Wardens design, draft and maintain master plans for tree placement and care along thousands and thousands of miles of community streets and through other areas of responsibility. This includes working closely with Road Agents or Planning Boards. Tree Wardens must evaluate and provide preventative tree maintenance programs, hazardous tree removal, utility arboricultural operations and oversee work of outside contractors by timely inspections, supervising many projects at once. In our high-tech world, he or she must be sure of public safety and the safety of town tree workers, procure training, record keeping, budget presentations, bid proposals, run public meetings and even write grants. Tree Wardens also implement public service environmental programs with both city officials and nonprofit volunteer groups such as beautification groups, garden clubs, environmental groups and youth groups such as Girl and Boy Scouts.

In fact, Tree Warden's provide leadership and motivation about our urban environment. They communicate with the general public, outside organizations and community departments while investigating and resolving a broad range of citizen concerns.

One of the most fun and exciting items of the Tree Warden's job is to coordinate and implement annual Arbor Day (usually in the spring on the last Friday of April) observance and provide field related educational services to School Department, and the general public. This may even include seeking funds from private and commercial businesses to support Arbor Day. Town Tree Wardens also conduct continuing research into Urban Forest Management and actively participate, correspond and meet with other municipal officials and associations related to their field of work.

Today's Tree Warden strives to maintain the highest standards of professional arboricultural conduct and to credibly reflect and increase the stature of the community tree program. The Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters' Association (MTWFA) is part of that process. The MTWFA helps Tree Wardens in a number of ways. To find out more about how your public trees are being cared for, or how to help get involved in planting and caring for trees, contact your local city or town, or call us:

The Massachusetts Tree Wardens' And Foresters' Association 240 Beaver Street, Waltham, MA 02154 Phone/Fax: 781.894.4759 Website: MTWFA * organized for the protection & preservation of trees * 1913 "Partial funding was provided by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management and the USDA Forest Service"