Urban trees are a dominant natural element in cities; they provide important ecosystem services to urban citizens and help urban areas adapt to climate change. Many rationales have been proposed to provide a purpose for urban forest management, some of which have been ineffective in addressing important ecological and social management themes. Among these rationales we find a values-based perspective, which sees management as a process where the desires of urban dwellers are met. Another perspective is climate change adaptation, which sees management as a process where urban forest vulnerability to climate change is reduced and resilience enhanced. Both these rationales have the advantage of complementing, enhancing, and broadening urban forest management objectives. A critical analysis of the literature on public values related to urban forests and climate change adaptation in the context of urban forests is undertaken to discuss what it means to adopt these two issues in urban forest management. The analysis suggests that by seeing urban forest management as a process by which public values are satisfied and urban-forest vulnerabilities to climate change are reduced, we can place issues such as naturalization, adaptive management, and engaging people in management at the centre of urban forest management. Focusing urban forest management on these issues may help ensure the success of programs focused on planting more trees and increasing citizen participation in urban forest management.