Urban Forestry Modeling and Prioritization Tools

Award Information
Agency:
Department of Agriculture
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$450,000.00
Award Year:
2012
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase II
Contract:
2012-02123
Agency Tracking Number:
2012-02123
Solicitation Year:
2012
Solicitation Topic Code:
8.1
Solicitation Number:
USDA-NIFA-SBIR-003621
Small Business Information
Azavea
340 N 12th St, Suite 402B, Philadelphia, PA, 19107-1100
Hubzone Owned:
Y
Minority Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
093014574
Principal Investigator:
Robert Cheetham
President and CEO
(215) 701-7713
cheetham@azavea.com
Business Contact:
Robert Cheetham
President and CEO
(215) 701-7713
cheetham@azavea.com
Research Institution:
n/a
Abstract
The Urban Forestry Modeling and Prioritization Tools project addresses the research and tasks necessary for creating cost effective, web-based software that assists urban foresters with strategically selecting planting locations in order to maximize impact on both the environment and local communities. Studies by the US Forest Service and other groups demonstrate the many environmental, health, aesthetic, and economic benefits of a large urban forest canopy. With limited resources to devote to planting and maintaining trees, however, urban foresters, community groups, and other organizations struggle with prioritizing planting locations in order to achieve the greatest economic and ecological return on investment. The difficulty in selecting a planting location is compounded by increasingly limited resources and the different needs and concerns of various communities. The Urban Forestry Modeling and Prioritization Tools were designed to provide assistance in determining effective tree planting locations based on a group's individual needs and priorities. The prototype software application consists of two components - one for the prioritization of tree planting locations and one for future scenario modeling. On the prioritization page, users can more easily identify ideal tree planting locations based on factors such as flood plain location and air quality. Users are able to adjust each factor and, within a second or less, view a personalized heat map identifying key tree planting locations based on the selected criteria. By switching to the scenario modeling page, users can identify an area of interest on the map and select the number, species, and size of trees to plant in that area. The modeling software prototype then applies growth and tree mortality rates to calculate the survival rate of the trees over a thirty year time period. Users can display the financial and ecosystem benefits generated by the trees over several decades to inform their decision-making. The target audiences for the Urban Forest Modeling and Prioritization Tools are municipal governments, regional planning commissions, non-profit organizations including horticultural and urban greening groups, community and neighborhood associations, stormwater and watershed managers, universities, and large parcel owners. Each of these groups could use the web-based tools to more accurately plan tree planting projects and improve the health of the urban forest. The speed and flexibility of the software as well as its usability by non-technical individuals open new possibilities for integrating heat mapping and geographic analysis into web-based modeling activities. Since a large urban forest and urban tree canopy has proven environmental, aesthetic, economic, and health benefits, the entire community benefits from more strategic tree planting.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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