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Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
(608) 231-9318
(608) 231-9544 TTY/TDD

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Urban Forest Effects on Environmental Quality


The Northern Research Station has realigned our staff from 37 Research Work Units and Programs into 14 new Research Work Units.

RWU-4952 is now part of NRS-8, Communities and Landscapes of the Urban Northeast.

The urban forest research unit, established in 1978, investigates the effects of urban forests and their management on human health and environmental quality.


Studying Urban Forest Structure

[image:] Two field crew members of Washington DC's Casey Trees Endowment Fund measure and record the diameter of a large treeFew people know how many or what kind of trees are found in urban areas, or the effect these trees have on a city's environment and the health and well-being of its inhabitants. Our research is aimed at measuring and inventorying our urban forest resources, understanding how urbanization affects local forest stands, and assisting city planners in developing appropriate management plans.

Quantifying Effects and Value of Urban Trees

Our scientists use structural data to determine the effects of urban forests on air and water quality, energy used by buildings, urban climate, ultraviolet radiation. Understanding and quantifying the impact of urban trees is an important prerequisite to managing city vegetation to improve tree health and optimize beneficial forest effects.

Generating Data

Field data are collected from across the world to better understand urban forest ecosystems. Our scientists collaborate with personnel from numerous institutions and are the principal researchers in the urban Long Term Ecosystem Research (LTER) project in Baltimore, Maryland, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Our research unit has developed the Urban Forest Effects (UFORE) model, a program that analyzes field data and quantifies urban forest effects. Model results from various cities are available for download from this website. Computer programs and field manuals are also being made available to allow one to easily quantify the structure, health, and effects of a particular urban forest.

New national Landsat-based tree and impervious cover maps (30 meter resolution) are being developed based on recent satellite and census data. These new data will allow for more accurate mapping and assessments of urban tree cover from the national to local scale. These maps are being developed in cooperation with EROS Data Center, Remote Sensing Application Center, and numerous other cooperators.

More Information

This site is currently under development as the Forest Service brings together the Northeastern and North Central Research Stations to form the Northern Research Station, serving the Northeast and Midwest. Check back often as we expand our site to reflect our combined commitment to supporting the natural resources and people of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States.

For more details about our research visit


Last Modified: 10/16/2008

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One goal of our research is to develop, apply, and test tools aimed at improving urban forest management. The unit provides data and recommendations to research managers and the public.

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[image:] New York City Skyline

The Northern Research Station’s New York City Urban Field Station promotes natural resource stewardship and ecological literacy to advance human well being in the country’s largest and most diverse metropolitan area, New York City