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We're thankful for trees and the many benefits they provide us.

Thankful for Trees and Their Benefits

November 27, 2013

From cleaning our air to fostering safe and sociable environments, trees impact our lives in countless positive ways. But the willingness of communities to recognize tree benefits and preserve their green investments will ultimately determine whether trees impact the lives of generations to come.

Davey Resource Group conducts tree inventories to quantify the number of trees in communities and determine ways to improve their urban forests. Read below to learn how Davey helped the City of Walnut Creek better understand the value of its urban forest.

Within the past several years, many cities have received grants to fund tree inventories, including the beautiful City of Walnut Creek, Calif., where London plane-lined boulevards have created outstanding upscale shopping areas, and the preserved open space is dotted with magnificent oak trees. The downtown central business district, which features several corridors, parks and city facilities, encompasses several clusters of green that add bits of visual interest to the town.

Because the forward-thinking management team of Walnut Creek understood trees are important aspects of the community, the city recognized the value in applying for a grant to offer assistance with its urban forest management.

BRANCHING OUT. In 2012, Davey Resource Group began a partial tree inventory of Walnut Creek, located within the San Francisco East Bay Area. The city had received a CalFire grant to provide funding for an inventory of 12,000 street and park trees. Although funding did not account for all 24,000 trees standing within the city, Walnut Creek's large variety of trees and species diversity resulted in a fun and interesting tree inventory endeavor for the tree-loving arborists involved.


tree inventory
Consulting Arborist Lori Murphy observes a tree standing within a city lot in Walnut Creek, Calif., where Davey completed a tree inventory in 2012. The data Davey collected will help the City better manage its urban forest.

Project Coordinator Steve Rounds and Consulting Arborists Lori Murphy and Naomi Rotramel were determined to complete the best tree inventory possible for Walnut Creek, given the time and resources available. To best prioritize data collection, Davey first evaluated available resources, client knowledge and needs.

"We met with city staff throughout the project to make sure the data we were collecting was what they needed for the trees they specified," Rounds explains. Davey collected basic tree attributes, such as species, size, height, condition, maintenance needs, sidewalk interference and damage, to coincide with CalFire's specific terms for the grant.

Because not all of the city's trees were inventoried, daily communication between Davey and city staff was important to ensure the client got exactly what it needed. Rounds, recognizing the mutually beneficial aspects of the project, adds, "The staff was very professional and easy to work with--it was a great experience all around."


walnut creek tree inventory
Murphy measures a Western redbud tree in downtown Walnut Creek.

CANOPY CONCLUSIONS. Davey completed Walnut Creek's tree inventory in two months, ultimately quantifying all factors of the city's tree population. "The data we collected helped determine whether too many or too few trees existed in certain areas, as well as which species to plant, maintenance needs and tree conditions--it ultimately helped them plan the city's urban forest," Rounds explains.

The city determined its new tree data was so significant, its management team created a video to highlight the value of trees in the community. "The value of the urban forest to most residents and visitors of Walnut Creek is the variety of trees you see in the core urban area and parks," explains Nancy Dollard, open space supervisor for Walnut Creek. (The video, titled, "Walnut Creek's Urban Forest," can be viewed on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5yIW4-JTVw.)

It didn't take long for community members to catch on to the benefits of the Davey tree inventory as well. "The community involvement we noticed was really interesting," Rounds explains. "Homeowners often approached the arborists as they worked, curious about what they were doing. This was a fun project to work on."

Ultimately, the inventory has been very valuable in helping Walnut Creek manage their urban forest. When more funding becomes available, Davey hopes to complete more tree inventories for Walnut Creek in the future. Until then, the city can breathe easy, better aware of the volume and traits of its trees, as well as how to generate more efficiency within its urban forestry management plans.


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