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Scientists & Staff

David Nowak

Project Leader / Research Forester
Urban Forests, Human Health, and Environmental Quality
c/o SUNY ESF, 5 Moon Library
Syracuse, 13210
Phone: 315-448-3212

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Current Research

The goal of my research program is to investigate what makes up the vegetation in cities and town and what environmental or ecosystem services this vegetation provides to local and regional populations. The research initiates field studies and develops computer models to assess the urban forest structure, functions, and values for urban areas across the globe. One of the research goals is to integrate urban forest ecosystem services (e.g., air quality improvement) within various environmental regulations (e.g., Clean Air Act). Tools are also being developed to aid in management and planning decisions to sustain urban forest health and services. Long-term monitoring programs are investigating how and why urban forest change through time so better management plans can be developed to sustain this important resource. Specific research projects include:

  • Assessments of changes in urbanization and urban forest structure and functions nationally
  • Local assessments of urban forest structure and functions: air pollution removal; carbon storage and sequestration; biogenic emissions; building of energy conservation; water flows and water quality
  • Effects of urban forests on air and water quality
  • Long-term monitoring of urban vegetation locally and nationally (proposed Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis Program)
  • Development of UFORE computer model to assess urban forest structure, function, and value
  • Functional species selection program

Research Interests

Future research will continue to focus on urban forest change, structure, functions, and modeling of ecosystem services.


  • University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. ,
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, M.S. ,
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, B.S. ,

Professional Organizations

  • Air and Waste Management Association
  • American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
  • International Society of Arboriculture
  • Society of American Foresters

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Carbon Sequestration by Urban Trees Valued in the Billions of Dollars Annually (2013)
Forest Service scientists quantified carbon storage and sequestration by urban trees in the United States to assess the magnitude and role of urban forests in relation to climate change. Total tree carbon storage in U.S. urban areas (in 2005) is estimated at 643 million metric tons ($50.5 billion value), with annual carbon sequestration estimated at 25.6 million tons ($2.0 billion value).

Nature Dominates in City Tree Regeneration (2012)
Assessment of tree planting and natural regeneration in cities reveals that most trees in cities are not planted

Trees Improve Human Health and Save Lives (2014)
Air pollution is a serious health concern. Trees offer surfaces that remove gaseous and particulate air pollutants. Modeling of local environmental data reveals that trees removed 17.4 million metric tons of air pollution across the conterminous United States in 2010, with human health effects valued at 6.8 billion dollars. The human health effects included the avoidance of more than 850 incidences of human mortality and 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms.

U.S. Urban Tree Cover Declining (2012)
Analysis of aerial images reveals that U.S. urban areas are losing about 20,000 acres of tree cover per year

Urban and Community Forest Summaries for the Lower 48 States (2010)
NRS scientist David Nowak and others have recently published several important summaries of tree and forest information.

Last updated on : 08-May-2015