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.