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What objectives and goals are you trying to achieve?

Laying out goals and objectives prior to conducting an assessment will help you determine what you will measure and how you will measure it.

One common goal for undertaking an assessment is to gain a better understanding of the current composition and structure of the urban forest. This understanding will create a base for planning, management and advocacy.


Credit: H. Michael Karshis

Other common goals of assessments are:

  • To quantify the ecosystem services an urban forest provides.
  • To give the public a better understanding of the urban forest and the benefits it provides.
  • To identify new planting opportunities to increase benefits to the community.
  • To understand how much canopy cover exists, what the opportunity is to create more and what locations have the greatest need or potential to maximize benefits of return on investment. Results can also be used in some ecosystem offset markets and conservation credit systems.

If one your goals is to develop a tree inventory, you should also determine if you want a complete or sample inventory:

  • Complete inventories are for communities that are able to collect data from every tree in an assessment area. While complete inventories provide excellent accuracy, they can be costly and time consuming. Complete inventories are best for folks who want to use data in a day-to-day management setting, typically for public trees or campus environments.
  • Sample inventories look at street segments or plots to generate a random sampling. This type of inventory generally looks at three to six percent of the full assessment area and has around a 10 percent margin of error. Sample inventories are a good option when a complete inventory is not necessary or a community lacks the time and resources necessary for a complete inventory.

Next Page: What is the scope?


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Section II: How to Choose an Assessment Tool                    Section III: Urban Forest Assessment ToolsNext Arrow