Iowa City Creates Tree Inventory to Grow and Manage its Green Space

In December of 2016, the Iowa City Parks and Forestry Division started making an inventory of the city’s trees.

The city worked with a geo-technical firm out of Colorado, Plan-It Geo, to catalog the trees to help the city manage and maintain its urban forestry.

The database was recently (Jan. 4) opened to the public to view on the Tree Plotter App.

Iowa City Superintendent of Parks Zac Hall says, “It’s going to help us manage what we have right now and plan for the future.”

Each dot on the Tree Plotter map represents a tree

On the map, each tree can be individually clicked on. When clicked on, it gives the type of tree, where it’s located and what kind of condition it is in.

Hall states that you can even view observations that show which trees are at risk of dying.

This inventory will help with the city’s management of emerald ash borer, an invasive species that kills ash trees.

The tree inventory also accounts for how much each tree is worth and its eco-benefits.

“Folks can see how much the tree in their right away is sequestering carbon, uptaking stormwater, cooling their home and just adding property value from an aesthetic standpoint,” Hall said.

Hall said the information does serve a larger purpose in managing the landscape. He said the information collected will go to the city’s urban forest plan to add more trees and diversity.

Species diversification is one of Iowa City’s number one goals in their urban forestry management. Currently, the city has 4,972 different species in its urban landscape.

Parks Superintendent Zac Hall said the city wants to use the information collected to grow the number of trees and the diversity of species

The city has planned and mapped out an additional 5,000 planting spaces for future trees to be planted. All together, collecting the information and creating the tree inventory cost the city around $100,000, according to Hall.

Hall said that the value of the current trees in Iowa City is an estimated $4.2 million. If more trees are planted, that value will only continue to grow.

This project reaps tons of benefits to the community for years to come if the database is properly maintained/updated. Consistent monitoring of tree health could help prevent total infestation of new invasive species such as the emerald ash borer.

Click here to read original article by Jalyn Souchek, Iowa City News Reporter.

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