Urban Tree Canopy
Urban Tree Canopy Assessment
Communities are increasingly looking to become more sustainable and livable. Improving a city’s tree canopy has numerous benefits from reducing summer peak temperatures to lowering the crime rates. These factors can help improve a community’s overall competiveness, attracting businesses and residents. The aim of the UTC assessment is to increase decision maker’s understanding of their urban forest resources, particularly as it relates to the amount of tree canopy that currently exists and the amount of tree canopy that could exist. The UTC assessment protocols have been applied to dozens of counties, cities, and towns in the United States and Canada. The information from these assessments has been used to inform UTC goals, prioritize locations for tree planting efforts, establish urban forestry master plans, understand patterns of environmental justice, inform sustainability plans and justify budget increases for urban forestry programs.
The Goal of UTC Assessment ?
The goal of the UTC assessment is to provide decision makers with detailed metrics regarding the tree canopy that exists in the urban forest. The metrics allow them to not only understand the urban forest in its current form, but to plan feasible approaches to increasing UTC. The UTC assessment was designed to answer two principal questions often posed by decision makers:
- How much tree canopy do I have?
- How much tree canopy could I have?
UTC Assessments provide urban resource managers with vital information to begin the goal setting and planning processes. However, the results may also lead to further questions like:
- Where is it socially desirable to plant trees? Or what is the Preferable Tree Canopy?
- Where is it financially likely to plant trees? Or what is the Potential Tree Canopy?
The NYC Urban Field Station has developed a set of UTC Prioritization tools that combine urban ecological information at socially meaningful scales based on stakeholder provided criteria. This tool set is the evolutionary next step, and accompanies UTC analyses. Learn more about how these tools have been developed in New York City and applied in Baltimore.
In 2012 the University of Vermont's Spatial Analysis Laboratory, with support from the Northern Research Station, National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, and the City of New York, published A Report on the City of New York’s Existing and Possible Tree Canopy (7 mb pdf). In 2006 they released UTC Assessment.
While Assessments provide answers about canopy inventory, and Prioritizations inform implantation of canopy goals, UTC Markets strive to improve communication among key stakeholder groups. A goal of UTC Markets is to match the message and the messenger to the audience of interest. This portion of the UTC Toolbox is in active development.
Using LiDAR to Quantify the Urban Tree Canopy
New York City acquired LiDAR in the Spring of 2010. These data will dramatically improve the ability for NYC's urban forest managers to account for the trees they care for, by allowing for more detailed and accurate measurements of urban tree canopy (UTC). Learn more about LiDAR and how it can be used to map trees in NYC. (2.5 mb pdf)
Recognizing the importance of LiDAR for a variety of scientific and management objectives, the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability organized a workshop in August of 2010. Designed to leverage the City's investment in hi-resolution geospatial data, the event educated many city agencies' end users about LiDAR and its potential applications. Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne (Forest Service Geospatial Analyst) presented on his experiences at the University of Vermont's Spatial Analysis Lab working with LiDAR data. Rerecordings of his talks mays be seen as videos:
Some documents linked on this page are in PDF format. You may obtain a free PDF reader from Adobe.
Last Modified: 01/07/2013