i-Tree: A suite of urban forestry management tools

Mark Tibbetts
Senior Manager of Development
APWA Washington office

i-Tree is a suite of software tools that provides public agencies with a means to strengthen their urban forestry management efforts. The USDA Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Program is partnering with the Davey Tree Expert Company and the National Arbor Day Foundation to develop and support i-Tree.

According to Mark Buscaino, Director of the Urban and Community Forestry Program, "i-Tree is the result of a unique public/private partnership that I believe will greatly assist public agencies in both managing and demonstrating the value in investing in our community trees."

The impetus behind i-Tree was the recognition that a better mechanism was needed to apply the results of the Forest Service's research and development program. Forest Service researchers developed a number of computer applications to improve urban forest management. However, the Forest Service lacked a good mechanism to help communities utilize them. i-Tree integrates several of these applications into a suite of tools downloadable off the Internet free of charge.

i-Tree provides communities of all sizes a means to strengthen their urban and community forestry programs. It can be used by municipal forestry departments, state forestry agencies, nonprofit tree advocates, commercial arborists, consultants, planners, and others interested in their community forests.

The goal of i-Tree is two-fold: to improve the management of the urban forest and to provide stakeholders with a means to quantify the value of the urban forest.

Currently comprised of six modules, i-Tree provides urban foresters with a means to assess and document both the structure and value of a community's urban forest. The suite includes tools that can be used to document tree management needs and quantify the annual environmental and aesthetic benefits such as energy conservation, air quality improvement and stormwater control.

i-Tree also has a basic tree inventory application that allows communities to conduct tree inventories and a storm damage assessment protocol that provides a standardized method to assess widespread storm damage in a simple, credible, and efficient manner immediately after a severe storm.

The i-Tree program is in the public domain, and an initial public release is scheduled for the summer of 2006. At that time toll-free technical support will be available. i-Tree training workshops are being scheduled for this spring and fall. As new programs are developed and tested, they will be included in subsequent releases of i-Tree.

For more information on the i-Tree suite of tools visit www.itreetools.org.

Mark Tibbetts can be reached at (202) 218-6710 or mtibbetts@apwa.net.