Vibrant Cities Lab

Vibrant Cities Lab logoOver 130 million acres of America’s forests are located right in our cities and towns. Urban forests come in many different shapes and sizes. They include urban parks, street trees, landscaped boulevards, gardens, river and coastal promenades, nature preserves, shelter belts of trees, and working trees at former industrial sites. Vibrant communities cultivate thriving urban forests that boost public health, safety, sustainability, and economic growth. The Vibrant Cities Lab is a new online hub that brings together the best tools and technical information related to urban forests. It explains why trees are essential to healthier, more livable communities and provides the guidance needed to implement urban forestry programs in your community.

Vibrant Cities Lab can be viewed in many different ways by many different audiences. County health executives and local hospital systems, for example, can learn about the relationship between urban trees and human health. Educators can see how tree canopy improves student learning. Even local police agencies can learn from other communities where adding urban trees has reduced crime and built community cohesion.

The Vibrant Cities Lab is built around five different components: a curated collection of the most authoritative research on the benefits of trees; case studies of communities that are already pushing the envelope on best practices; a toolkit that demonstrates what it takes to create an effective urban forestry program; an assessment tool to set your goals and measure your progress; and a searchable resource library updated quarterly.

Vibrant Cities Lab covers eleven of the major benefits trees provide to neighborhoods and communities. A twelfth, Resilience, is coming soon. For each of the 11 areas where urban forests improve livability, we offer a curated collection of case studies, academic journal articles, plans, and best practices. We currently catalogue more than 500 resources in our library. A team of scientists and practitioners review it quarterly to make sure we have the most up-to-date credible resources for your use. If you have any materials you’d like to propose for the Vibrant Cities Lab, please send them to

For more information about the development of the Vibrant Cities Lab, check out Vibrant Cities Lab: A State-of-the-Art Platform to Help City Leaders Harness Urban Forests from the Fall 2017 American Forests magazine. The Vibrant Cities Lab was developed by the U.S. Forest Service, American Forests, and the National Association of Regional Councils.