Urban Forestry Modeling and Prioritization Tools
The project team will test the feasibility of making cost-effective urban forestry modeling and prioritization functionality available through a web-based software solution. Azavea envisions a product that will enable urban forestry management personnel and their coordinating organizations to maximize positive impact on the urban landscape and calculate the quantitative financial and non-financial metrics for return on investment, including such diverse factors as carbon storage and sequestration, stormwater runoff mitigation, air pollution removal, land cover summary, and overall water quality. If Phase I feasibility is proven, the prototype application developed for testing in Philadelphia will be refined and generalized in Phase II and beyond, enabling municipal and county governments, non-profits, neighborhood planning groups and citizens across the nation to perform tree planting prioritization and management studies at multiple scales, including city-wide, neighborhood and individual blocks on a street. The arguments for increasing the number and size of our urban forests are manifest. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency and United States Forest Services indicate that urban street trees improve water quality by mitigating stormwater runoff; provide energy savings for residential and commercial buildings through summertime shade and wintertime windbreak; reduce the level of air pollution through carbon sequestration; lower overall summer air temperatures by shading impervious surfaces that would otherwise contribute to urban heat island conditions; and even increase property values through their aesthetics. Since the United States Census Bureau has indicated that more than 80% of the population in the United States resides in urbanized areas, it is clear that any changes to the urban environment have the potential for far-reaching impact on the health and well-being of the vast majority of our nation's population. Under urban tree planting initiatives throughout the United States, millions of trees will be planted over the next ten years as part of urban enhancement and revitalization efforts. Since ongoing budgetary constraints for many communities require careful planning and prioritization of all spending efforts, it will be important to strategically plan where each tree should be planted in order to justify expense and receive maximum return on investment. The impact of the new trees will be greatest if they are planted in locations that will have the greatest impact on ecosystem services such as water, stormwater and air quality management. Strategic management of urban forestry will be an increasingly important part of managing air quality in urban environments, and will work in conjunction with other "green" initiatives, such as reducing auto emissions and minimizing impervious surface cover. The prototype application will include the modeling and benefits calculation tools needed to proactively site and manage an urban tree population. These tools will also enable governments to accurately document and leverage urban forestry benefits data that may assist them in gaining much needed federal funding.
Small Business Information at Submission:
340 N 12th St, Suite 402B Philadelphia, PA 19107-1100
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