Cities Map—and Track Benefits—of Urban Forest
Trees have numerous environmental benefits. The U.S. Forest Service even has a free software program called i-Tree that calculates the environmental and economic benefits of trees. However, as Ben Schiller reports, most cities do not have an accurate tree inventory to see these benefits. Studies are even showing a decline in urban tree population.
Fortunately, as Schiller explains, OpenTreeMap is allowing cities like Philadelphia, Tampa, and San Diego to map and manage their trees by inventorying trees themselves or through citizen participation. OpenTreeMap links directly to the i-Tree program to compute “benefits like CO2 storage, water and energy conservation, and reduction in airborne pollution.” The goal is that "[quantifying] the benefit of trees makes arguing for them easier."
The future iteration of OpenTreeMap will include a feature that “simulates tree plantings and their impacts…It will help planners work out where to plant trees for maximum environmental effect, and to understand how rows of trees might perform over their lifetimes.”