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Philadelphia Field Station

Ecosystem Benefits and Urban Forest Change

An important area of interest and expertise at the Philadelphia Field Station is urban forest change over time. This requires long term monitoring or access to long-term data. For this reason, we have applied existing Forest Service monitoring and modeling approaches, are seeking new ways to gather data with help from citizen scientists and practitioners, and are evaluating changes to urban forest stewardship.

iTree Eco –Philadelphia, Wilmington, Chester, and Camden

[photo:] Need captionThe Philadelphia Field Station has collected data for an i-Tree Eco analysis in Philadelphia, Wilmington and its surrounding county, Chester, and Camden.  Reports are being completed for all four communities. As part of the science delivery associated with this project, these reports will be presented to local community partners. The Philadelphia iTree report is scheduled to be published in early 2015.

Tree Mortality and Growth
Urban tree mortality and growth are measurements of success for urban tree planting initiatives and are also central inputs to urban forest population projections and associated ecosystem services models. Lara Roman is focusing some of her research on better understanding tree mortality and growth in cities, generating new field data towards analyzing the primary determinants of survival, and ultimately building more comprehensive population projections for urban forests. Lara is collaborating with various local and regional partners (New York City Parks & Recreation, Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, University City Green in Philadelphia) to design and analyze urban tree monitoring studies.


Lara Roman and Jason Fristensky are studying urban forest change on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The study is a collaborative project with Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services and Environmental Sustainability Director. In this study, temporal changes within a highly managed campus urban forest is analyzed.  The mining and linkage of multiple inventory data sources and formats will provide quantitative information for understanding fluctuations in population count, species composition, and size class distribution.  An aerial image assessment of the change in canopy cover over time and mining of archival records (for example, construction projects and photo archives) will demonstrate the qualitative transformation that can occur on a college or university campus. This mixed-methods approach is a testing ground for theoretical frameworks and data integration techniques for other urban forest systems. 

STEW-Map Philadelphia

STEW-Map Philadelphia has been conducted in Philadelphia in partnership with the University of Maryland and the Forest Service, Northern Research Station’s New York City Field Station. The assessment, which was closed at the beginning of 2014, was sent to hundreds of organizations involved in environmental stewardship activities throughout Philadelphia. Those data are in the process of being analyzed and the results will be shared with partners.

Urban Tree Canopy Assessment (UTC)

The Philadelphia Field Station and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has been working with the University of Vermont to conduct Urban Tree Canopy Assessments for the Philadelphia Region. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Camden County, New Jersey, and Delaware County, Pennsylvania are currently being assessed. Once the data are available the PFS, the PHS, the Davey Institute, and the Delaware Valley Planning Commission will provide technical support for communities in the aforementioned three counties that are interested in using UTC to prioritize tree planting efforts and manage their urban forests.