Tree Inventory Description

Some methods of tree inventory are as follows:

• Proprietary Software & Consultants
There are computer programs designed specifically for tree inventory data collection. These can be very valuable tools in creating detailed management plans. Usually, consultants who work for the producers of these programs come out and collect the data then customize your tree management plan to suit your needs and capabilities. The management options allow tracking calls, maintenance and updating at a minimum. These programs are available with or without GIS (Geographic Information System) and GPS (Global Positioning System) technologies. However, mapping specific tree locations is not very useful for most communities unless a GIS is already in place (with data for surrounding streets, utilities, etc.). The main exception to this is the mapping of parks and large landscapes (such as colleges and other large facilities).

Be cautious when selecting a consultant. Check references as program ease-of-use and good technical support/service are a major consideration towards price. Most companies will provide technical support for a specified period of time with periodic updates to the software. When requesting a price quote for data collection, a community should have a reasonable projection of the number of miles to cover and average number of trees per mile to estimate inventory cost. A summary report of the survey results and their significance should also be part of any complete inventory.

• Papers and Volunteers
The most inexpensive and simplest method of data collection is to gather and send volunteers out to record tree information with paper and pen. The data collected by the volunteers can then be entered into a spreadsheet. While this method is not conducive to true forest management, it is a good start for smaller communities with fewer resources. However, volunteers should not be used for inventory collected for management purposes.

• PDAs (Personal Data Assistants) & Contractors
PDAs are a quick and efficient way to update on-site tree information. However, information should be consistently collected by community or contract employees to protect the integrity of the updated data. While some expense is required, especially initially, this is still an overall inexpensive means of collecting data.

So, how much information is needed? There are many factors that will contribute to the amount of information needed. A full inventory of all trees on community property can be collected, or an inventory of only street trees or only non-street trees. The amount of information collected depends on the needs of the community. Depending on the size of a community’s budget, programs can be started in which a) a full inventory is taken, b) only hazard trees are noted, c) boundary trees are noted, d) line-of-sight tree information is collected or e) a combination of all of the above or something else altogether. Whatever your needs, consider managing for liability and safety as a start in establishing an urban forestry program.

Tree Inventory Methods
Decision Guide
Tree Planting
Wildlife Management Planting
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