Can iTree be used for developing a campus inventory?

Section for FAQs regarding i-Tree Eco (UFORE)

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Can iTree be used for developing a campus inventory?

Post by azelaya » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:54 pm

Post updated to consider new Eco v6 options and Streets legacy status - May2019

The i-Tree Tools are first and foremost urban forest assessment tools designed to provide ecosystem service information of a given resource based on inventory data. Therefore, they do not have the same features and functions of other traditional inventory tools that are designed for daily or frequent management of trees, tracking work history, generating work orders, etc. As such, there will be some limitations to using i-Tree assessment tools in a traditional tree inventory capacity. Nonetheless, the limitations of i-Tree used for inventories may be acceptable depending on your objectives and available resources. The (2) i-Tree Tools which have an inventory component are as follows:

i-Tree Eco is designed for assessing trees in all areas including parks, campuses, cemeteries, etc. and would be applicable for your project. Eco v6 now has flexible data requirements which make it more accessible for parks like applications. Previous versions of Eco required data such as tree height, canopy width and much more. These data are optional in Eco v6 and will make estimates more accurate if available.

Again, Eco is an assessment tool and you are basically providing the field data needed for the model to estimate ecosystem services based on species, canopy metrics and environmental variables such as local pollution and weather. Eco v6 has expanded report options and a flexible import option for complete inventory data collection which makes it more practical to use with existing inventories also. There are a some user defined fields now available in Eco. Eco is applicable for campus assessment project and several institutions have used Eco such as Auburn University and University of Georgia. The UGA assessment is also an example project now available in Eco v6.

The i-Tree Streets program is a legacy program which means we are no longer updating it, but it is available in the current i-Tree v6.1.27 installation. Streets is designed for street tree assessments and has some additional fields to collect optional data. The Streets program is intended for determining ecosystem services of right-of-way trees. Therefore, ecosystem service estimates in a campus or park-like setting may not be as applicable. Because Streets is not being updated, we don’t generally recommend it because it will become obsolete at some point in the future due to Microsoft operating system updates, and Streets users will need to migrate to Eco.

As an alternative, many people use i-Tree as a complementary tool with more traditional tree inventory and asset management systems to periodically determine ecosystem services of trees. Since it is not practical to manage tree data in an asset management system and i-Tree concurrently, there are methods to import in external inventory data into i-Tree Eco v6 for periodic ecosystem assessments. Typically, i-Tree users will conduct an assessment with i-Tree every 5 years or so depending on management objectives and available resources.

In short, the i-Tree programs may be able to provide information to illustrate the ecosystem services value that campus trees are providing but the i-Tree programs may have limitations for more daily or frequent tree management objectives. Please see the following link to a University of Florida paper comparing more traditional inventory and management systems. The article is from 2009 and may not have information on newer systems.
A member of the i-Tree Team
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