Big Data in Urban Forestry: Analyzing Urban Tree Diversity Across North America
Mark Ambrose from North Carolina State University and USDA Forest Service’s Forest, spoke during a recent Wetmore Lecture to the Planning at Illinois community. His Zoom presentation, given on October 25 at 12:30 pm, was recorded and can be watched here.
Here is a summary of his lecture:
The diversity of species composition of urban forests affects those forests resilience to stressors and their vulnerability to invasive pests, as well as the many benefits provided by those forests. While many cities have some sort of urban forest inventory, there have been relatively few analyses of urban trees at larger scales to understand regional scale patterns of diversity. Using data assembled from over 1500 North American urban forest inventories, I tested cities against Santamour’s “10-20-30 rule” and found that the vast majority of cities failed. Results of an analysis of street and park tree diversity in a subset of those cities suggest some approaches that may be used to effectively increase urban forest diversity and resilience. The same urban forest data also were used to model the abundance of several common tree genera that serve as hosts for invasive pests to determine where risk was highest and how pests might spread. They also demonstrate the challenges to using data assembled from diverse sources, originally collected for non-research purposes, in scientific research. These analyses demonstrate the importance of a large-scale analysis of urban forest diversity, resilience, and vulnerability to further inform future efforts toward a sustainable and equitable urban forest for planners.