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    Climbers' CornerTree Academy

    Using Aerial Image Classification to Prioritize Urban Tree Plantings


    Trees provide essential services to the urban environment yet their quantification as well as planting prioritization can be complex and resource intensive. Sample tree inventories on the ground give valuable and detailed information but do not efficiently assess the entire area of interest. Although remote sensing and GIS analyses do not provide comparably detailed information, such as species or age class of trees, they allow for efficient assessment of large areas. Using aerial images and other GIS data layers, we are classifying land cover, including tree canopy cover, by applying remote sensing techniques to estimate the number of existing trees. We are then using GIS analyses to estimate the number of trees that can be accommodated within the area of interest based on a list of criteria such as along streets or within grassy or bare area. These data will then be used to estimate ecosystem services (e.g. energy savings) of existing trees as well as potential trees. Knowing the density of trees for a given area, this information alone would help prioritize tree plantings but additional objectives can be focus of an analysis. We are working in three different geographic regions, the greater Denver region, Colorado; Marin County, California; and San Jose, California. Each entity has a different focus, such as mitigating the urban heat island or increasing energy savings. We will present the analysis conducted as well as the outcomes of the analysis. In addition, we will present how the results and data were used by each entity.

    Conference Proceedings Documents


    Julia Bartens is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California and collaborates with the Urban Ecosystems and Social Dynamics Team of the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station in Davis, CA. She is mainly involved with GIS and ecosystem service assessments. She received her PhD in urban forestry and MS in urban horticulture, both from Virginia Tech. She has published and reviewed scientific and technical publications, is an ISA certified arborist, holds a graduate-level GIS certificate, and is a Tour des Trees participant.

    Dr. Greg McPherson is a Research Forester with the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station located in Davis, CA. Greg grew up under a canopy of American elm trees in Michigan. Despite attempts to save the trees, all were lost to Dutch elm disease, and having felt the sting of that loss he became a "green" accountant, developing new methods and tools for quantifying the value of nature’s benefits from city trees. He works with a team of 3 other scientists who measure and model effects of trees on energy use, urban heat islands, air pollutant uptake, carbon sequestration, and rainfall interception. Their research is helping justify investments in urban forest planning and management. In 2000 Greg received the International Society of Arboriculture’s (ISA) L.C. Chadwick Award for Research. Greg chairs the ISA Tree Growth and Longevity Working Group and serves on the Science Policy Advisory Committees of American Forests and the California Urban Forest Council. He attended University of Michigan (BGS), Utah State University (Masters in Landscape Architecture), and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Ph.D. Forestry). 

    Qingfu Xiao is a scientist at the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, University of California Davis and does joint research with the Urban Ecosystems and Social Dynamics Program, PSW Research Station, USDA Forest Service. He studies urban forest influences on urban hydrology, and measures and models urban hydrological processes. He is also involved in mapping urban forests using GIS and remote sensing.Qingfu received a Bachelor's of Science degree in Computer Science from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in the People's Republic of China and then received both a Master's and a Ph.D. in Hydrologic Sciences from UC Davis. He enjoys bringing Urban Forestry and Urban Hydrology together in his research.

    Chunxia Wu received her MA degree in Agricultural Engineering from Zhejiang University, China, and her PhD degree in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Tennessee,Knoxville. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Land Air and Water Resources at University of California, Davis. Her research interests include RS/GIS spatial modeling, land cover classification, and urban forestry studies.

    Climbers' CornerTree Academy

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