In order to know how to best care for and plan for urban forests, you need to know what you have. Conducting a regular tree inventory is an important piece of having an effective and vibrant tree program.
A tree inventory is the process of counting, characterizing, and recording information about the trees that make up the urban forest in your community. It is a useful process that documents important information related to:
- Total number of trees
- Condition and health indicators
- Location (including accessibility)
- Size class diversity
- Species composition
- Maintenance needs
Get Started With Your Tree Inventory
Inventories can be completed relatively quickly or be very detailed depending on the needs and capacity of your community. There are two main types of inventories:
- Public Tree Inventory: A detailed, systematic inventory of public shade trees (trees within the public right-of-way and on municipal land) within a specified area or along high use roads or densely settled neighborhoods.
- Roadside Tree Assessment: A “windshield survey” of back roads to identify hazardous trees and forest health issues, such as presence of the emerald ash boer (EAB). The roadside inventory is an inexpensive, quick and effective procedure whereby a cursory visual inspection and count can be made by trained volunteers or municipal staff from a vehicle.
Tree Canopy Assessment
In addition to a tree by tree inventory, a tree canopy assessment analyzes tree canopy from above, providing valuable information to help communities set tree cover goals, and to identify areas to conserve and enhance.
General resources on tree inventory and assessment:
- i-Tree Tool: i-Tree is a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service that provides urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools.
- Tree Inventory and Management Software: A compilation of commercially available and free software provided by the USDA Forest Service.
- Urban Tree Canopy Assessment "Helps decision makers understand their urban forest resources, particularly the amount of tree canopy that currently exists and the amount that could exist."
- Urban Forest Assessments Resource Guide This document contains links to a plethora of online tools that help determine qualities like inventory data, canopy assessment