US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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David J. Nowak

David J. Nowak

Emeritus Research Forester
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science & Forestry
1 Forestry Drive, 5 Moon Library
New York
United States

Phone: 315-448-3212
Fax: 315-448-3216
Contact David J. Nowak

Current Research

The goal of my research program is to investigate what makes up the vegetation in cities and town and what environmental or ecosystem services this vegetation provides to local and regional populations. The research initiates field studies and develops computer models to assess the urban forest structure, functions, and values for urban areas across the globe. One of the research goals is to integrate urban forest ecosystem services (e.g., air quality improvement) within various environmental regulations (e.g., Clean Air Act). Tools are also being developed to aid in management and planning decisions to sustain urban forest health and services. Long-term monitoring programs are investigating how and why urban forest change through time so better management plans can be developed to sustain this important resource. Specific research projects include:

  • Assessments of changes in urbanization and urban forest structure and functions nationally
  • Local assessments of urban forest structure and functions: air pollution removal; carbon storage and sequestration; biogenic emissions; building of energy conservation; water flows and water quality; air temperatures
  • Effects of urban forests on air and water quality, energy use and air temperatures nationally
  • Long-term monitoring of urban vegetation locally and nationally (Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis Program)
  • Development of i-Tree ( computer model to assess urban forest structure, function, and value
  • Functional species selection program

Research Interests

Research interests focus on urban forest structure, health and change, and its effects on human health and environmental quality. Research is integrated with in the i-Tree modeling suite that quantifies the benefits and values from forests globally.

Past Research

Assessment of Oakland’s Urban Forest: First detailed assessment of a city’s entire forest system and associated ecosystem services based on complete field sampling. (1989-1991).

Chicago Urban Forest Climate Project: Expanded detailed assessment of urban forests and ecosystem services in the Chicago metropolitan region (2 counties). (1991-1994)

Development of Urban Forest Effects (UFORE) model: A standardized method of sampling of urban forests and methods of assessing ecosystem services was developed within a new model (UFORE) to aid in assessing and understanding urban forests. (1994-2004)

Urban Tree Effects on Ozone: A field and modelling study of urban tree effects on ozone concentrations along the Northeastern seaboard in the United States. (1998-2000)

National and Regional Effects of Urban Forests: National estimates of the magnitude of the U.S. urban forest resource and its impacts on air pollution removal, carbon storage and sequestration, and building energy use have been assessed and updated over the years. Also various threats to the urban forest at the national scale have been assessed. (2001-date)

National Urban Forest Health Monitoring: Helped lead a team that developed and tested field protocols and analyses techniques for assessing urban forests within a field plot inventory and monitoring program. Work from this project would be implemented within the current national urban forest inventory program in the United States. (2001-2013)

Development of i-Tree ( Numerous urban forest assessments of ecosystem services and values across the globe have been conducted using i-Tree Eco and other i-Tree tools. (2004-date)

Tree cover and cover change analyses: based on various field data and aerial assessments of urban area, research has been on-going on developing methods and quantifying change to urban forest structure and functions through time. (2004-date)

Why This Research is Important

As urbanization continues to alter our environment, the understanding and management of trees and forests in and around urban areas is essential to provide optimal forest services and values to current and future generations to sustain environmental quality, human health and human well-being.


  • University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. Urban Forestry 1991
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, M.S. Urban Forestry 1986
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, B.S. Forestry and Biology (dual degree) 1984

Professional Experience

  • Senior Scientist / i-Tree Team Leader, USDA Forest Service
    2016 - Current
  • Project Leader / Research Forester, USDA Forest Service
    1997 - 2016
  • Research Forester, USDA Forest Service
    1991 - 1997
  • Forestry Technician, USDA Forest Service
    1989 - 1991

Professional Organizations

  • International Society of Arboriculture
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF)

Awards & Recognition

  • L.C. Chadwick Award for Arboricultural Research (ISA), 2015
  • R.W. Harris Author’s Citation (ISA), 2011
  • J. Sterling Morton Award (Arbor Day Foundation) , 2010
  • Research and Development Honor Award (US EPA), 2010
  • New York State Arborists, ISA Chapter Research Award, 2009
  • Trees Forever Special Recognition Award, 2009
  • Chief’s Honor Award for Engaging Urban America (i-Tree Team), 2008
  • Northern Research Station External Technology Transfer Award (Carbon Tools Development Group), 2008
  • Contributing member of Noble Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007
  • Northern Research Station External Technology Transfer Award (i-Tree team), 2007
  • Distinguished Science Award for Northeastern Research Station, 2003
  • Chief’s Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer (group award for Memorial Trees), 2003
  • Chief’s Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer (group award for National Technology Transfer Te, 2003
  • State of New Jersey Green Community Achievement Award – Individual Category, 2002
  • APHIS award for outstanding contribution to the Solid Wood Packing Materials, 1999
  • American Forests Urban Forest Medal recognizing outstanding national contributions in urb.for. res., 1995
  • Freidrich U. Klaehn Memorial Award (SUNY ESF), 1985

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Carbon Sequestration by Urban Trees Valued in the Billions of Dollars Annually

Forest Service scientists quantified carbon storage and sequestration by urban trees in the United States to assess the magnitude and role of ur ...


Declining U.S. Urban Tree Cover

Urban forests in the United States conservatively provide over $18 billion in annual benefits. Between 2009 and 2014, tree cover in urban areas ...


Forest Inventory and Analysis Urban Monitoring Expands to Include 26 Cities

In collaboration with state and local partners, the Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIS) Program has expanded urban forest mon ...


Forest Inventory and Analysis is Coming to a City Near You

In collaboration with state and local partners, the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) has begun monitoring the ...


In New York City, the Value of Urban Trees Adds Up

New York City’s urban forest produces cleaner air, lower energy costs, reduced ultraviolet radiation, and less storm water in the city’s sew ...


Nature Dominates in City Tree Regeneration

Assessment of tree planting and natural regeneration in cities reveals that most trees in cities are not planted


Trees Improve Human Health and Save Lives

Air pollution is a serious health concern. Trees offer surfaces that remove gaseous and particulate air pollutants. Modeling of local environmen ...


U.S. Urban Tree Cover Declining

Analysis of aerial images reveals that U.S. urban areas are losing about 20,000 acres of tree cover per year


Urban Trees Save Billions of Dollars Through Reduced Energy Costs

Trees in U.S. urban and community areas reduce residential energy use by an average of 7.2 percent, which equates a national savings of $7.8 bil ...


Urban and Community Forest Summaries for the Lower 48 States

NRS scientist David Nowak and others have recently published several important summaries of tree and forest information.


i-Tree grows to more than 180,000 users in 130 countries

i-Tree is a series of freely available tools that aid people in quantifying the benefits and values derived from trees and forests and in under ...


Last updated on : 10/14/2021