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What is your study area or scope?

There are several scales at which you can conduct an urban forest assessment: the urban forest of an entire city or metropolitan area, a discrete tree population, a neighborhood, street trees, a single tree or a park.

Credit: Nick Sarebi/Flickr

Credit: Nick Sarebi

Once you’ve determined your scale, you need to decide what environmental benefits or ecosystem services, if any, you want to assess in your urban forest.

Some examples of ecosystem benefits or services that can be quantified with urban forest ecosystem assessment tools include:

  • air pollution removal
  • emissions reduction
  • carbon storage
  • water interception and stream flow
  • energy use of buildings
  • UV radiation reduction
  • wildlife habitat and biodiversity

Socio-economic benefits and services are more difficult to measure, but there are some tools to measure them separately. Social conditions of the environment, like effects on health and crime, can be evaluated through conducting studies and surveys of the community. Statistical data on health and crime may also be useful in a social assessment of an urban forest. Economic conditions, such as job opportunities and property values, can also be tracked with statistical data. With these and other non-physical characteristics, correlations between urban forest conditions and social and economic conditions might appear. For more information on the social sciences related to urban forestry, you can check out the University of Washington’s Human Dimensions of Urban Forests and Urban Greening.

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