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iTree Eco Project

Trees in urban and rural areas contribute significantly to human health and environmental quality by providing various ecosystem services (i.e., the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species which make them up, sustain and fulfill human life). To better understand the ecosystem services and values provided by trees, the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station, developed the Urban Forest Effects model, which is now known as iTree Eco. Results from iTree models are used to advance the understanding of tree and forest resources; improve urban and rural forest policies, planning and management; provide data to support the potential inclusion of trees within environmental regulations; and determine how trees affect the environment and consequently enhance human health and environmental quality in urban and rural areas.

The iTree Eco model is used to help quantify forest structure, function and values. Forest structure is a measure of various physical attributes of the vegetation, including tree species composition, number of trees, tree density, tree health, leaf area, biomass, and species diversity. Forest functions, which are determined by forest structure, include a wide range of environmental and ecosystem services such as air pollution removal and cooler air temperatures. Forest values are an estimate of the economic worth of the various forest functions.

View the full report (PDF)"Assessing Urban Forest Effects and Values: the Greater Kansas City Region", published by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

To help determine the vegetation structure, functions, and values of trees in the greater Kansas City region, a vegetation assessment was conducted during autumn of 2010. For this assessment, 0.1-acre field plots were sampled and analyzed using the i-Tree Eco model. This report summarizes results and values of the table below:

  • Forest structure
  • Potential risk to trees from various insects or diseases
  • Air pollution removal
  • Carbon storage
  • Annual carbon removal (sequestration)
  • Changes in building energy use

Threats in the region

Resources on two prominent threats to trees—Honeysuckle and the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.