Featured Tools

Climate Change and...

Fast Facts

Topic

Emissions, Carbon Estimations

Purpose

i-Tree consists of several different applications focused on quantifying the benefits of local trees for neighborhoods and communities. Each application has a unique focus, however several calculate the carbon sequestration and/or energy savings benefits of urban trees, including i-Tree Eco, i-Tree Streets, i-Tree Vue, and i-Tree Design (beta).

Output

Outputs vary by application, but generally include reports and graphs of numerical values for the ecosystem services provided by urban trees or forests. These outputs may include benefits such as air quality improvements, carbon sequestration, building energy savings, and storm water interception. The monetary value of these benefits is also reported. Additional outputs may include an evaluation urban forest structure, management needs, or susceptibility to invasive pest damage.

Developed by

The USDA Forest Service in cooperation with several partners. See the i-Tree homepage for a complete list.

Format

Downloadable software and online, interactive tools.

Geography

United States and International

Scale (range)

Individual trees to tree populations (e.g. all trees within a county boundary).

Status

i-Tree is a peer-reviewed software suite. The current version 4.0 features several additions and upgrades compared to previous versions. Individual applications are in various stages of development, with two currently in beta testing.

Potential Applications

Estimating benefits of urban trees, projecting the benefits of planting projects.

Caveats, Restrictions

The quality of tool output will depend heavily on the quality of the field inventory data for many i-Tree applications. Several applications are designed to be simple and user-friendly, and therefore may have limited customizability.

i-Tree

Overview & Applicability

i-Tree is a suite of several different applications, however this page will focus on tools that specifically address the carbon and greenhouse gas emissions benefits of urban trees, including i-Tree Eco, i-Tree Streets, i-Tree Vue, and i-Tree Design (beta). In general, each application requires the user to define a study area, whether it be a residential home with a single tree or a larger area, such as a neighborhood, city or county, with a large population of trees. It then uses  field inventory or sampling data (Eco, Streets, Design)  and/or land cover data (Vue) to calculate tree and forest structure and the benefits those trees provide. Communities can use existing tree inventories or can conduct a new project inventory depending on the application.

When an i-Tree project is completed, reports are provided to inform users  how neighborhood trees contribute to carbon sequestration, building energy savings (through shading and/or blocking wind), air quality improvements, and storm water interception. Some applications assist users in summarizing and evaluating the structure of their urban tree communities and examine management needs.

More thorough descriptions of each application are available on the i-Tree website: http://www.itreetools.org/applications.php

History

The original i-Tree suite of tools was launched in 2005 with two urban forest assessment applications. It has since been through many updates and improvements; the current version 4.0 was launched in 2011 and features six different applications and four management utilities. Some of these applications have just become available with version 4.0, and are in beta testing (including i-Tree Design). More information about progress and updates  to i-Tree can be found on the What's new page: http://www.itreetools.org/news/whats_new.php.

Inputs and outputs

Inputs and outputs will vary with individual application, but in general the tools require a user to define a project study area and input data about the general land use and the trees in that area (species, size, health), whether from an existing or new dataset. Understanding the effect of trees on building energy use also requires information about tree locations in relation to adjacent buildings.

Outputs may include:
Urban forest structure analyzed by land-use type, air-quality & pollution control benefits of urban forests, carbon sequestration and energy savings benefits, potential impacts of pests on tree populations, impact of tree pollen on allergies, the monetary value of tree populations, the monetary value of tree populations or individual trees, possible management needs (tree diversity, planting, pruning), overall cost vs. benefit of tree maintenance, tree canopy projections and available space, and storm water interception benefits.

See the i-Tree Applications page to explore more specifics about each application.

Restrictions and limitations

Several applications (i-Tree Eco and i-Tree Streets) require a tree/land-use inventory or sample for the area of interest. A user’s manual with inventory protocols are included with each iTree application, however the quality of the final outputs from i-Tree will depend heavily on the quality of these user collected data.

Some of the applications allow users to customize information to fit local circumstances, local electricity prices or local air pollution data for example. Other applications are limited in their customizability and rely on regional averages. While this approach can make it easier to use and learn the tool, it also has limitations insofar as it can make the output less specific to local conditions.

Most of the applications were built for use in the United States; international users may still be able to use them, however they may be subject to modeling limitations and may need to supply their own location and geographic data if not included with the tools (e.g. pollution data).

Accessing the tool and additional information

The i-Tree website features clear descriptions of each application,its inputs and reporting features, as well as multiple learning and support resources for users: http://www.itreetools.org/index.php.


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