Healthy City Trees Mean Big Dollar Signs with New Mobile Software from the Forest Service

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U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced today the release of new mobile software that helps urban planners, homeowners and students quantify the value of their urban forests.

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Urban forests are vital and dynamic forests

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced today the release of new mobile software that helps urban planners, homeowners and students quantify the value of their urban forests.

Earlier versions of the award-winning i-Tree software suite made forest management easy and accessible for millions of Americans. Now, with i-Tree version 5.0, the Forest Service and its partners have increased not only the suite of tools available, but the range of devices that can use it, including smartphones and tablets. The software is completely free for download.

i-Tree allows users to easily and accurately find the dollar value of the benefits provided by urban forests, including energy cost savings, storm-water capture and city pollution absorption.

“Urban forests are vital and dynamic forests,” said Tidwell. “They clean our air and water, and they make our cities more beautiful and livable. i-Tree exemplifies the Forest Service commitment to supporting the health and productivity of all of the nation’s forests, including those that line our city streets.”

Since i-Tree was first released in 2006, communities, non-profit organizations, consultants, volunteers and students have used the software application to analyze individual trees, parcels, neighborhoods, cities and entire states. In cities across the country, findings from i-Tree have helped spur greater investments in municipal trees and green spaces.

One recent i-Tree study found street trees in Minneapolis provided $25 million in benefits ranging from energy savings to increased property values. Urban planners in Chattanooga, Tenn., were able to show for every dollar invested in their urban forests, the city received $12.18 in benefits. New York City used i-Tree to justify $220 million for planting trees during the next decade.

While most of the more than 10,000 people using i-Tree are in the U.S. and Canada, it has been used in more than 108 countries. Interest in i-Tree from users outside the United States prompted an upgrade in version 5.0 that will allow rapid assessment of urban trees and forests throughout Australia and Canada.

The new release is the first since 2011 and features a new data collection web form that allows any device – such as smart phones or tablets – with a modern internet browser to be used to collect and enter field data. A new function within i-Tree design forecasts the growth and benefits of trees through time, based on species and location-specific growth models.

The Forest Service’s robust urban forestry and research programs are active in the neighborhood forests of more than 7,000 communities across the U.S. The agency worked with Davey Tree, Society of Municipal Arborists, International Society of Arboriculture, Arbor Day Foundation and Casey Trees to make i-Tree possible.

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.


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