iTree Systems Get Smart in Urban Forestry

Citygreen - iTree Systems Get Smart in Urban Forestry

iTree Systems Get Smart in Urban Forestry:

Think back to a time that you forgot to water one of your houseplants. Now think about the time and energy it takes to remember and organize the maintenance of an entire community’s forest, that is, every tree. Since the USDA Forest Service introduced this suite of technology in 2006, iTree has been making it possible for communities and their supporting infrastructure to get smart with their urban landscaping efforts, and make the most of their valuable resources, the trees.

“Whether it be a residential home with a single tree or a larger area, such as a neighborhood, city or county, with a large population of trees…” the suite of technologies offered by iTree help build accuracy in inventory of trees, as well as an analysis and benefits over the course of the tree’s lifetimes. This accurate snapshot of the urban canopy not only gives the information needed to know how best to maintain the forestry, but it also helps quantify the value in investing into the quality of a community’s urban forestry, both in dollars and scientifically. One of the best parts, is this technology is available to download for free.

“When an i-Tree project is completed, reports are provided to inform users how neighborhood trees contribute to carbon sequestration, building energy savings (through shading and/or blocking wind), air quality improvements, and stormwater interception, “ as stated on the USDA webpage.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been successful in implementing the iTree software for nineteen communities thus far.Tracy Salisbury, urban forestry coordinator for the Natural Resources Department in the northeast region said, “Our goal was to use i-Tree to create fact sheets so that decision-makers — mayors and city councilors — can see the value of their trees…We want to show them the value in a new light.”

As the program further develops, partnerships have been made with the Forest Service, Davey Tree Expert Company, National Arbor Day Foundation, Society of Municipal Arborists, International Society of Arboriculture, and Casey Trees to provide technical support.

Including iTree Hydro, which is still in the beta stage, iTree system boasts a total of six applications also including i-Tree Eco, i-Tree Streets, i-Tree Vue, i-Tree Canopy and i-Tree Design.

The Difference That Urban Trees Make

The Difference That Urban Trees Make

The Difference That Urban Trees Make:

Urban developers around the world are joining in the effort to create green cities for future generations.

In an article by Ben Kaplan from We Create Here in Iowa, he mentioned the many benefits of urban trees based on a list created by Dan Burden. Burden is the co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute – an organisation focused on creating pedestrian friendly spaces.

The story stated several benefits of urban trees. One is creating a safer environment. This is because street trees “make people drive more carefully” thereby keeping pedestrians safe and reducing stress associated with driving.

“Surprisingly, people perceive driving through areas with street trees as taking less time than driving in areas without street trees,” Kaplan noted.

Second, trees absorb greenhouse gas emissions, lowering the carbon emissions and other particulates in the air. Apart from that, “roads covered by a canopy of mature trees last 40 to 60 percent longer than roads without tree cover.”

The shade also lowers the heat island effect as canopied roads stay cooler on hot days. “Street trees also soak up a lot of water, helping to prevent street flooding and runoff.”

As we mentioned in the blog, street trees actually have more financial benefits to the city than the cost to maintain them. According to Kaplan’s article, it costs $1.2 million a year to maintain all of the 35,000 street trees in their area. But they generate $5 million of positive economic benefits each year.

“The average value per tree is $34 and in total generates $1.3 million a year. Street trees in Cedar Rapids also divert enough stormwater to save the city $1.8 million a year, reduce energy costs by $1.3 milion a year and provide $450,000 worth of air quality improvement and carbon reduction annually.”

“If you want to experience the difference street trees can make as a pedestrian, take a happy hour stroll from the Starlite Room to Belle’s Basix or 101 Gastropub, once on the tree-plentiful north side of 1st Avenue, and walk back on the unshaded south side of the street,” Kaplan said.

Several organisations are aware of the many benefits trees provide. More recently, according to 9&10 News in Michigan, the Greening of Detroit’s Green Corps program is hiring 80 high school students to help take care of the 12,000 trees and green spaces in the city. Since it started, the program has hired more than 1,500 young people to help care for the city’s environment.

These young people will also “work to improve parks and support conservation projects while learning about agriculture and farming at The Greening’s farm gardens”.

Previously, residents of Detroit also united to create a greener city. It is these efforts from communities and organisations that will continue to push others to do their part in creating a greener future.

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How to Determine Urban Canopy Cover

How to Determine Urban Canopy

How to Determine Urban Canopy Cover …and other important facts about your urban forest

By: Richard J. Magill, Magill & Associates, Inc.
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