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Urban forests provide environmental, economic and aesthetic value to society. Reduction in stormwater runoff, energy savings, improvements in air quality, as well as their visual aesthetic are amongst the benefits of including trees as a part of the urban and suburban fabric. To safeguard tree resources into the future, municipalities can determine the percentage of their canopy cover and establish appropriate goals.
The Urban Forestry team’s mission is to connect people and plants through outreach, education and consulting, locally and regionally. With that mission in mind, the goal of this project was to help Springfield Township better understand its tree resources by conducting a tree canopy study using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) mapping technology.
Our planet’s geography was poorly defined until the dawn of aerial photography following WWI. In today’s modern age, maps are a precise and powerful tool used for presenting and analyzing spatial information. More advanced data are now being collected by aerial flyover. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania acquired a LiDAR dataset in 2008. These data can dramatically improve the ability of municipalities to make tree-related decisions because of more detailed and accurate measurements of their tree canopy.
Using LiDAR data, Springfield Township was found to have a 32.4% tree canopy cover. The resulting canopy cover map will be used in Springfield Township’s Natural Resources section of their decennial Comprehensive Plan. The Township can now consider and set an appropriate canopy goal, and then determine which areas to be targeted for future tree plantings.
To supplement the study, a proposal was developed to conduct a more in-depth analysis of Springfield Township’s tree resources by inventorying and assessing trees under its jurisdiction. Additionally, a marketing brochure was designed to promote the study to other municipalities and has evolved into a campaign to help additional Townships understand their urban forest in its current form and plan feasible approaches to increasing tree canopy cover to benefit their citizens.
Date Posted: 09 September 2019