Category Archives: Biofilter Blog

Tree Mapping

DSC_0077This past Saturday we had a crew of citizen foresters out and about at Middle Shoreline Harbor Park and the Bay Bridge Trail measuring trees in an effort to quantify the ecosystem services that the urban forest provides.  iTree Eco, a software tool developed by the USDA, allows for cities, land managers and urban forestry groups to collect field data on trees and input it into their online system for analysis and receive a full report on the services that the forest provides.  The report includes details pertaining to:

  • Urban forest structure – types of trees, amount of trees all categorized by land use type
  • Hourly amount of pollution removed by the urban forest, and associated percent air quality improvement throughout a year.
  • Hourly urban forest volatile organic compound emissions and the relative impact of tree species on net ozone and carbon monoxide formation throughout the year.
  • Public health incidence reduction and economic benefit based on the effect of trees on air quality improvement.
  • Total carbon stored and net carbon annually sequestered by the urban forest.
  • Effects of trees on building energy use and consequent effects on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
  • Yearly tree canopy rainfall interception summarized by tree species or land use.
  • Compensatory value of the forest, as well as the value of air pollution removal and carbon storage and sequestration.
  • Pests risk analyses based on host susceptibility, pest/disease range and tree structural value.

The turnout was a great mix: UC Berkeley students volunteering for their Alternative Breaks program, various tree groups interested in replicating the iTree survey for their respective cities and horticulture enthusiasts.  During this trial run we successfully measured 152 trees down at the Port and we hope to measure the rest in the near future!  For more information on this program check out the iTree website.

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New York Times Cites High Cost of Asthma Inhalers in Oakland

We are always interested when the media covers local issues we are working on, especially national coverage.  Recently the New York Times published a story that opened with a family based in Oakland, California and their difficulty in affording prescription asthma medication.  The United States on average spends far more per capita on prescription inhalers than any other developed country.  People living in West Oakland, encircled by three freeways and the port, are well aware of this cost because they are disproportionally affected by this disease due to pollution.  In a nation where prescription costs for inhalers are extremely high, and where you live drastically increases your chances of getting asthma, your options are limited.  This is what Adapt Oakland hopes to mitigate, by constructing dense urban forestry in between the source of the pollution and the residential neighborhood we can reduce the environmental health costs inflicted on West Oakland residents.


Air Quality Monitors Coming to Oakland

Particulate matter pollution – nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and other fine particulates – that are responsible for illnesses such as asthma, will soon be monitored thanks to three new Air Quality Monitors being installed in Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose.  Bay Area Air Quality District is to thank for this upcoming installation and believes the new data can provide more detailed information on air quality of residential neighborhoods located close to major roads.

Urban Biofilters’ fellow Collaborator, Margaret Gordon from the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project was interviewed for an in depth article announcing the new monitoring system as well as covering some of the serious air issues in parts of West Oakland that we at Adapt Oakland are hoping to help. Check out the article here!

iTree Helps Forest Find a Future in Oakland

We’ve been digging into  new tools to help us quantify the ecosystem services provided by our urban forest in West Oakland. Our hope is that by understanding the ecological benefits our urban trees provide, we can maximize the potential of our urban forest to improve the health of Oakland workers and residents, purify the air and water, improve flood control, mitigate heat island effects, restore wildlife habitat and make our city more beautiful and resilient.

One of the tools we’ve been using is i-Tree, a software suite developed by the USDA Forest Service (and partners*) for assessing urban forest conditions and benefits. The i-Tree tools allow communities to quantify the structure of and environmental services provided by the urban forest, so that they can strengthen their urban forest management and advocacy efforts. i-Tree has been widely used by communities, non-profit organizations, consultants, researchers, volunteers, homeowners and students to report on the urban forest at all scales from individual trees, parcels, neighborhoods, cities, to entire states. It allows users to understand the local, tangible ecosystem services that trees provide.

Adapt Oakland’s  is making use of the i-Tree tools to quantify the existing condition of Oakland’s urban forest, and to develop a proposal that will enhance the benefits provided by our landscape. Our green infrastructure solutions include using urban forests, living walls, trellises, and green roofs to mitigate the scientifically-documented health impacts of particulate matter and pollution on people living and working in close proximity to industry and shipping. i-Tree Design is also allowing us to forecast future benefits of trees within the Adapt Oakland project such as benefits such as energy savings, stormwater interception, carbon sequestration, air quality and pollution removal.

 *i-Tree was developed, supported and distributed through a group of partners including the Forest Service, Davey Tree Expert Company, National Arbor Day Foundation, Society of Municipal Arborists, International Society of Arboriculture, and Casey Trees.