Including urban trees in the national tree census

Today as part of our work with the US Forest Service Northern Research Station, we met with experts from the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis program (USFS FIA). The USFS FIA program is the nation’s continuous forest census. It has historically taken the national census of trees on lands classified as forest land.

The Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition has been advocating for inclusion of urban trees in the nation’s forest census. In this year’s Farm Bill, the US Congress directed USDA to move towards including urban trees in their national data collection and analysis.

USFS FIA has responded and is starting its national urban tree census in two cities: Baltimore, MD and Austin, TX. We were excited to be part of the Baltimore program kickoff today! USFS FIA field crews showed us the difference between an Urban FIA plot and a traditional FIA plot, and how that plot would play out on site.


Our plot was in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park. About half of it was a road and the other half was a forested area of the park. Two of the microplots were in the roadway and the other two were half in the right of way and half in the woods (see above; in urban areas, data plots can have many, few, or no trees).

Crews demonstrated collection of plot and tree data including damages and crown information, and plot land cover information.


We’re very pleased with the “all lands, all people” approach demonstrated by USFS by way of the Urban FIA launch, and are excited to have the USFS FIA program helping us learn more about trees in the metropolitan Baltimore area. This will increase our ability to identify issues and solutions for people + trees in Baltimore City.

The Consulting Group at SavATree provides project support to the US Forest Service Northern Research Station.