Trees play an essential role in our environment, improving air and water quality, reducing temperatures, providing wildlife habitat, and reducing carbon emissions. To ensure the health and sustainability of their urban forests, many municipalities have urban forest programs in place that establish management goals and priorities.
To properly manage an urban forest, the first step is to understand the tree resource by conducting a public tree inventory. An inventory is typically done by a team of on-the-ground arborists, who walk from tree to tree gathering information on each tree including size, species, location, and condition. The GIS data collected by the arborists is uploaded into mapping software that is used by the municipality. These types of inventories should be updated every 5-10 years, but for some communities these updates never happen.
While on the ground, GIS-based inventories have been the gold standard for decades, there are drawbacks to this approach. Assessments can be subjective amongst field arborists, update costs can be high, and critical management data can be missing due to infrequent updates. To address these challenges, machine learning-based solutions offer options for more frequent and objective inventory data that can offer a more accurate basis for decision-making and improved urban forest management.
Leveraging New Methods For Urban Forestry Assessments
Davey Resource Group (DRG) has a strategic partnership with greehill, who uses LiDAR and 360-degree high-resolution photography to create a digital twin of each tree. The data and images gathered by greehill are fed into a machine learning engine that is trained to identify the tree species and location, and measure diameter, leaf area index, height, leaning angle, canopy spread, and other tree characteristics.
With an objective and repeatable methodology, DRG is able to provide scanning every 2 years to keep inventories up-to-date and actionable allowing municipalities to make more informed decisions based on objective and current data and their maintenance budgets. This proprietary process for gathering urban forestry data adds another tool to the urban foresters toolbox and moves urban forestry into the digital future.
DRG is leading pilot projects in select U.S.cities using this innovative inventory technology. Once completed, DRG can utilize the data and information collected to assist municipalities in achieving their urban forestry goals.
On The Cutting Edge Of Urban Forestry Technology
A partner who brings their unique technology to the table, combined with DRG’s depth of experience, creates an exciting new chapter for urban forest health monitoring. DRG’s team of knowledgeable and qualified professionals can help with urban forest management, from plan development and assessments to implementation.