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Measuring Forest Biomass

The following note appeared in LARCH-L Digest - 14 Jan 2000 to 17 Jan 2000 (#2000-9) (2)

Kurt Skinner raises a good question when he asks how do we know that we are replacing lost biomass after development, when following established landscape ordinances for replanting. American Forests' approach to conserving our urban forests has been on demonstrating the ecological and economic benefits they provide. While trees are not the only component of urban biomass, they are the largest component and one that can be measured. Using research developed by the USDA Forest Service, the Natural Resoruce Conservation Service and others, American Forests has developed a software program called, CITYgreen, a GIS-based program that maps and measures the value of urban forests in terms of stormwater reduction, energy savings from direct shading of trees, and air quality, including the 5 main components of air that EPA measures (carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter 10 microns or less.) CITYgreen software can model "what if " scenarios to show the benefits of different tree conservation or development designs. This information is valuable to guide future planning and ordinance development. This program can be used to study a site, neighborhood, or entire city using aerial imagery. American Forests has also conducted regional analyses of tree canopy change over time and the benefits lost with dimished heavy tree canopy cover using GIS technology and satellite imagery. Our work has included analyses of the Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay, and Atlanta Metropolitan areas. This year we will expand our work to Houston, Colorado's Front Range and other areas in the US. For more information on CITYgreen software and American Forests' work on Urban Ecosystem Analyses, see our website at: . Look under trees, cities, and sprawl. Cheryl Kollin

Director, Urban Forest Center, American Forests