Got Tree Data?

by Carrie Asselmeier


An urban tree canopy assessment has been completed for your city, you have a full set of land cover data, canopy data, maps and reports. What’s next? 


Many recognize the benefits of trees like improvement of stormwater quality, air quality, energy conservation, wildlife habitat, health benefits and as well as economic benefits. Urban tree canopy assessments are the first step. What happens next with tree canopy and other data from assessments ranges from recognition of new canopy goals, tree planting priorities and implementation of forestry management plans. In some cases, urban tree canopy assessments lead to more robust initiatives and networks for collaboration to inform sustainable development of cities and their canopy.

A great example of this collaboration is the Treasure Valley Canopy Network. In 2013, PlanIT Geo partnered with the Idaho Department of Lands and communities in Idaho’s Treasure Valley to conduct an urban tree canopy assessment and create geospatial tools to help planners and managers strategically manage their urban forest. With the tree canopy data, land cover layers and tools acquired from this assessment as their backbone, Idaho Department of Lands partnered with The Keystone Concept to create the vision, mission and platform for what eventually became the Treasure Valley Canopy Network (Network).


The Network is a collaborative of public, private and non-profit professionals who serve communities by collaborating on projects and programs that build, maintain and enhance the urban infrastructure of this rapidly growing region. The Network uses a “Map the Canopy” interactive map through ArcGIS Online that was created from the urban tree canopy data from the 2013 PlanIT Geo™ assessment. The map is used by partners, planners/managers, landowners and more to view their communities’ tree canopy and engage with the Network. These resources and maps help support the goals of the Network, to collaborate and inform sustainable development of the Treasure Valley’s urban forest.

Urban tree canopy assessments can also be a stepping stone for other research. Key program growth areas for the Network over the last 2 years include urban heat island research, the Treasure Valley Shade Tree project which partners with Idaho Power, Idaho Department of Lands and the Arbor Day Foundation’s Energy Saving Trees Program and a City Forest Credits project and program. The kind of collaboration that the Treasure Valley Canopy Network has built, is what PlanIT Geo hopes other cities can achieve using urban tree canopy assessments.


As the Treasure Valley Canopy Network mission statement says, “We must collaborate, innovate and sustain to support the health of our urban forests, green infrastructure and the surrounding communities.”  Learn more and engage with the Network on their various social media platforms.

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