Final project materials for AUTI and forest storm mitigation planning now available
The project to support Accessible Community Tree Inventory was started in 2019 and delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the project has now been completed with final materials and impact measures being made available. The pilot project was administered by Dovetail Partners and funded in part by the USDA Forest Service's National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost Share Program, as recommended by the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC).
The project provides community forest managers access to an inventory program with a standardized interface, specialized data fields, and customizable fields for local planning needs at low cost through state urban forestry (UF) program coordinators. With training and technical support, this tool provides the ability to assist communities, identify state concerns and risk using real data from communities of all sizes, and communicate effectively to all stakeholders including state and federal legislators. The project piloted, tested, trained and released the program across the country.
Inventory activity using Accessible Urban Tree Inventory (AUTI) has been completed with pilot communities in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Nevada (US Air Force), Nebraska, Maine, Florida, Vermont, and California. A total of 24 states have been engaged in AUTI demonstrations and testing. Urban Forest Metrix is offering direct support for the software. More information about AUTI is included in the project’s Frequently Asked Questions document, available here.
Some states have expressed the desire to use the program beyond the grant term that ended December 31, 2022, and this has been anticipated and arranged for, with blocks of licenses provided to requesting states for future deployment. To date, approximately 300 licenses have been provided.
In addition to the benefits of AUTI, the project also provided a national template, refining an existing forest storm mitigation planning tool developed by Georgia to be used in conjunction with outreach to communities, to increase the awareness of urban tree management and the importance of including trees in the emergency management process. The Community Forest Storm Mitigation Manual and Workbook were edited for a national audience and reviewed by a leading expert in federal disaster relief for the most up-to-date information and weblinks. A workbook and template are now available to support Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning. The materials were prepared by the Green Infrastructure Center. In 2022, staff distributed 157 digital copies of the manual and workbook on jump drives to attendees of the Partners in Community Forestry Conference.
The storm manual’s layout was also edited to condense the material into a more manageable size for useability. The manual was developed into distinct sections or “books” to make it easier to digest specific topics. A navigation key was created to aid users to find the most relevant places to start in the manual and planning process.
Outreach and promotion to Urban Forestry Coordinators who wish to adopt and offer the inventory program is on-going. Initial presentations have been made at National and Regional urban forestry meetings. The emergency forest storm manual has also been shared with coordinators and others via meetings, events, and webinars.
Managing the community forest in the face of the challenges and risks associated with increasing threats requires specific information about individual trees in the community forest. Community tree inventories have been an essential management tool and being prepared for risks and changes from pests or natural disasters means inventories are more important than ever. Accessibility to affordable inventory tools is essential.
Urban trees provide myriad benefits for communities including shade, stormwater uptake, improved air quality, and habitat for birds, pollinators and other wildlife while also improving real estate values. But urban trees need to be monitored to make sure they are healthy and not at risk of failure. A new tool will help cities accurately track and inventory their street and park trees. The Accessible Urban Tree Inventory (AUTI) project brings a modern, mobile, map-oriented inventory system to communities for little or no out-of-pocket cost.
The AUTI system also complements i-Tree - a common software for tracking tree benefits -by providing a modern, mobile method of entering in tree data in the field. A spreadsheet file export can be created so that i-Tree can be employed for analysis. States opting to help pilot the program will benefit by gaining additional software licenses.
The overall intent of this project was to develop, refine and release a low-cost urban tree inventory and training program available to all 63 urban forestry coordinators for states and islands, should they so choose. The inventory program incorporated pest and disease information, as well as volumetric calculations that FEMA uses nationally to compensate towns for debris removal (Debris Estimating Guide, 2010, and Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide, 2018). The training program included emergency planning analytics, such as: tables and maps of at-risk tree populations, and their proximity to key infrastructure and populations, which can help estimate response times and expenditures that may be mitigated. The project included a training component to expand planning risk mitigation as part of the planning process, making the connection between a community’s data and suggested mitigation planning steps. This will further support the inventory program by training and assisting Urban Forestry Coordinators.
This project was funded in part by the USDA Forest Service's National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost Share Program, as recommended by the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council.
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