You are here: NRS Home / Scientists & Staff / David J. Nowak

Scientists & Staff

David J. Nowak

David J. Nowak

Project Leader / Research Forester
Forest Inventory & Analysis, Urban Forests, Human Health, and Environmental Quality
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science & Forestry
1 Forestry Drive, 5 Moon Library
Syracuse, New York 13210-2778
Phone: 315-448-3212

Send Email

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 i-Tree ( computer model to assess urban forest structure, function, and value
  • Functional species selection program

Research Interests

Research interests focus on urban forest change, structure, functions, and modeling of ecosystem services.

Why This Research is Important

As urbanization continues to alter our environment, the understanding and management of trees and forests in and around urban areas is essential to provide optimal forest services and values to current and future generations to sustain environmental quality, human health and human well-being.


  • University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. Urban Forestry, 1991
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, M.S. Urban Forestry, 1986
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, B.S. Forestry and Biology (dual degree), 1984

Professional Experience

  • Project Leader / Research Forester USDA Forest Service
    1997 - Current
  • Research Forester USDA Forest Service
    1991 - 1997
  • Forestry Technician USDA Forest Service
    1989 - 1991

Professional Organizations

  • International Society of Arboriculture
  • Society of American Foresters

Awards & Recognition

  • L.C. Chadwick Award for Arboricultural Research (ISA), 2015
  • R.W. Harris Author’s Citation (ISA), 2011
  • J. Sterling Morton Award (Arbor Day Foundation) , 2010
  • Research and Development Honor Award (US EPA), 2010
  • New York State Arborists, ISA Chapter Research Award, 2009
  • Trees Forever Special Recognition Award, 2009
  • Chief’s Honor Award for Engaging Urban America (i-Tree Team), 2008
  • Northern Research Station External Technology Transfer Award (Carbon Tools Development Group), 2008
  • Contributing member of Noble Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007
  • Northern Research Station External Technology Transfer Award (i-Tree team), 2007
  • Distinguished Science Award for Northeastern Research Station, 2003
  • Chief’s Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer (group award for Memorial Trees), 2003
  • Chief’s Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer (group award for National Technology Transfer Te, 2003
  • State of New Jersey Green Community Achievement Award – Individual Category, 2002
  • APHIS award for outstanding contribution to the Solid Wood Packing Materials, 1999
  • American Forests Urban Forest Medal recognizing outstanding national contributions in urb.for. res., 1995
  • Freidrich U. Klaehn Memorial Award (SUNY ESF), 1985

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 : 20-Nov-2015