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Using New Tools to Analyze and Plan Your Urban Forest


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Planting locations are often determined by organization goals, available funding, practical logistics that influence the number of trees you can plant and where you can plant them, and dozens of other factors. With the new toolkit from OpenTreeMap you can use existing sociodemographic and land-use data to make more informed planting decisions, and estimate the future environmental and economic benefits of your trees.

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Using New Tools to Analyze and Plan Your Urban Forest

  1. 1. Using New Tools to Analyze and Plan Your Urban Forest November 1, 2016
  2. 2. OpenTreeMap Team Deborah Boyer - Joe Morrison - Hadley Stein -
  3. 3. Background • Azavea is a civic technology firm that uses geospatial data to build software and data analytics including OpenTreeMap • We’re a B Corporation and committed to open source software • OpenTreeMap partially funded through Small Business Innovation and Research Grants from the USDA • Tree maps used by municipalities, non-profit organizations, and consulting arborists worldwide
  4. 4. Forest modeling Community engagement Green infrastructure mapping Customization Inventory mapping and management
  5. 5. Forest Modeling Prioritization • Identifying optimal planting locations based on existing data that reflects your organizational priorities
  6. 6. Forest Modeling Scenarios • Projecting potential tree benefits and overall growth and mortality
  7. 7. Phase 1 - Prioritization • Focused on Philadelphia region • Used data selected based on New York City study* * Locke, D.H., M.Grove, J.W.T. Lu, A. Troy, J.P.M. O’Neil-Dunne, and B. Beck. 2010. Prioritizing preferable locations for increasing urban tree canopy in New York City. Cities and the Environment 3(1):article 4.
  8. 8. Phase 2 - Goals • Expand to the continental US • Support more customization options • Provide templates • Improve the map interface • Enable sharing and editing plans
  9. 9. Phase 2: What data to use? Requirements: • Available nationwide • No usage restrictions • Geographically specific • Connected to tree planting priorities Selected: • Tree canopy – National Land Cover Database • Impervious surface – National Land Cover Database • Population density • Economic data • Housing data* * Roman, Lara A., J. Battles, and J. McBride. 2014. Determinants of Establishment Survival for Residential Trees in Sacramento County, CA. Landscape and Urban Planning 129(2014): 22-31.
  10. 10. Data Wish List • Health data • Water related data • Temperature data • Air pollution data • Wildlife data
  11. 11. Data as Filters • Soil types • Transit information • Location within flood plain • Localized public works or zoning maps • Neighborhoods and other geographic boundaries
  12. 12. What data is important to your organization’s planting priorities?
  13. 13. Exploring the Software
  14. 14. Other Prioritization Tools: i-Tree Landscape
  15. 15. • Includes land cover and census demographics • Web-based with a geospatial interface • Explore existing canopy and ecosystem benefits • Create Priority Planting Index and view report • More info at Other Prioritization Tools: i-Tree Landscape
  16. 16. Other Prioritization Tools: Trees and Health App
  17. 17. Other Prioritization Tools: Trees and Health App • Organized by Portland State University with support from the US Forest Service and other partners • Focuses on identifying planting locations to impact tree canopy and public health • Provides information for 14 cities in the US • Supports exploring target canopy percentages and number of trees to plant • More info at
  18. 18. Forest Modeling Scenarios • Projecting potential tree benefits and overall growth and mortality
  19. 19. Phase 1 • Digitally plant trees and grow out over 30 year period • Mortality rates from Nowak, D, et al. 2004. Tree Mortality Rates and Tree Population projections in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, vol 2, issue 3, p 139- 147. • Growth rates from Nowak, D. 1994. Chapter 6: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Reduction by Chicago's Urban Forest. Results of the Chicago Urban Forest Climate Project. USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, General Technical Report NE-186.
  20. 20. Phase 2 - Goals • Support more customization options • Update growth rates • Refine mortality rates • Implement replanting option • Enable sharing and editing plans
  21. 21. Additional Growth Data • More specific growth rate information courtesy of the Urban Tree Database • Data gathered from 14,000 trees in 17 U.S. cities over 14 years • Includes 365 sets of tree growth equations for 171 species • More info and raw data available at
  22. 22. Revising Mortality Process • Keep a default of 5% annual mortality* • Support customization of mortality for species and diameter and remove land use as a mortality factor • Editing species and diameter mortality rates can impact overall mortality rate • Does not include an option for factoring in management, construction, storm, or pests *Roman, L. 2006. Trends in Street Tree Survival, Philadelphia, PA. ScholarlyCommons, University of Pennsylvania.
  23. 23. Exploring the Software
  24. 24. What mortality and growth information would you like to see?
  25. 25. Other Scenario Tools: i-Tree Forecast • Part of i-Tree Eco and uses the results from running an Eco model • Includes default values and options for customizing the duration of the forecast, days without frost, mortality rates, pest outbreaks, weather, and more • View forecast reports related to urban forest composition and structure and ecosystem benefits • More info at uides/Ecov6Guide_UsingForecast.pdf
  26. 26. Future Updates • Support customization of growth rates • Include upload of local data • Expand to project canopy growth • Support bulk upload of data • Share data back to an OpenTreeMap site
  27. 27. OpenTreeMap Team Deborah Boyer - Joe Morrison - Hadley Stein -