The following blog post is based on an article written by Lee Mueller, project developer for Davey Resource Group (DRG).
Humans naturally gravitate toward large trees. If you take a group of kids on a nature walk, it is often the largest and oldest trees that captivate their attention. Whether it is for shade, beauty, or tree-house potential, there is simply a magnetic draw to the largest trees.
Aside from humans’ obvious preference for large, majestic trees, trees have become more recognized as assets—and perhaps investments. Tools like the National Tree Benefits Calculator (http://www.treebenefits.org) and the i-Tree suite (http://www.itreetools.org) help calculate the benefits trees provide, placing a monetary value on these benefits and the tree itself.
Recent scientific research suggests that trees in front of a house can increase home value by as much as 6.4%1. Combined, this shows trees continue to grow in value over time—but only if they are afforded the proper care to reduce issues and extend longevity.
Taking care of one tree can be hard enough, but managing an entire population can prove to be very challenging. To assist in the management of large populations of trees, arborists have developed innovative tools that help track and monitor trees.
Chief among these is a tree inventory, which is a database of information about a particular population of trees. At a minimum, an inventory includes information about each tree’s location, species and size. Depending on its use, additional attributes such as the tree’s condition, maintenance recommendations (e.g. pruning, fertilization, removal), tree risk assessment, conflicts (e.g. overhead utilities, hardscape), or other field observations are often included as well.
Most tree inventories include all the trees within a specific property or area of interest. There are multiple ways to conduct a tree inventory based on priorities, budget and management objectives. With the vast array of options, an inventory can be tailored to meet a range of project needs and budgetary limitations. The data contained within an inventory can help grounds managers and landscape professionals project future tree care needs, which helps them improve operations, budget appropriately and schedule work efficiently.
Understanding tree inventory data and their implications can help landscape professionals and grounds managers develop yearly maintenance expectations and determine resource and budgetary needs. As the old saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” A tree inventory is the tool used to measure and support the management of any number of trees.
A tree inventory may help you save time and money. When each tree is reviewed independently by a certified arborist, small issues may be noticed long before they become big issues. Aside from the costs, proactive maintenance is key to investing in trees as assets. Provided the appropriate care, trees can live longer, provide greater benefits and better contribute to the landscape.
Source: 1Donovan, G.H., and D. T. Butry. 2008. Market-based approaches to tree valuation. Arborist News 17: 52-55.