Archive 2008 - 2019

What is a Tree Warden?

by Carol Holly

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

Since the late 1890’s, according to our General Laws, all cities
and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must have
a Tree Warden to care for trees on public property.

Some of the duties of a Tree Warden include but are not limited
• Pruning trees on streets and in parks
• Removing dead or dying trees, and trees damaged by
storms or disease
• Planting new trees
Count the number of miles of streets in a city or town, or the number of shade
trees in a city block, and you will understand a little of the scope of a Tree Warden’s

Today, the job of Tree Warden requires qualified training in arboriculture, the
science of tree care. The job is physically challenging as well. On a day-to-day
basis, a Tree Warden must plan, organize, control and be accountable for all
authorized activities in the community forest.

They evaluate trees and provide preventive tree maintenance programs and
hazardous tree removal. They are responsible for oversight of utility arboricultural
operations prepare budget presentations and bid proposals, run public meetings,
and even and outside contractors, for making timely inspections, and often for
monitoring write grants, many projects at once. In a high-tech world, the Tree
Warden must ensure public safety and the safety of town tree workers, procure
training, maintain records, prepare budget presentations and bid proposals, run
public meetings, and even write grants.

Bearing an important public trust, today’s Tree Warden often works with other
government and private organizations committed to the preservation of natural
resources, community image, and the development of community forestry programs.

Tree Wardens provide leadership and motivation for citizens to learn about and
grow the natural environment. They communicate with the general public,
government departments, and outside organizations to investigate and resolve a
broad range of citizen concerns. Property values and the quality of life in a
community are often greatly influenced by the work of the Tree Warden.

One of the most satisfying tasks of the Tree Warden’s job happens at Arbor Day,
usually the last Friday of April in Massachusetts. Tree Wardens coordinate and
implement Arbor Day observances, providing field-related educational services to
School Departments and the general public. This may include seeking funds from
private and commercial sources for support of the educational efforts.  Tree
Wardens also conduct continuing research in forest management and actively
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 increase the stature of the community’s tree program.
The Massachusetts Tree Wardens’ and Foresters’ Association (MTWFA) is part of
that process. The MTWFA assists Tree Wardens by providing ongoing opportunities
for training, education and networking. To find out more about how public trees are
being cared for, or how to get involved in planting and caring for trees, call your
local city or town Tree Warden, or contact us and we'd be glad to point you in the
right direction to get the information you need.