Data and analysis

New DNR Publication: Results of the 2020 Diverse Urban Species Survey

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) just released a new publication: Results of the 2020 Diverse Urban Species Survey.

You may have participated in this survey led by DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator Don Kissinger in 2020 (if so, thank you!) Wisconsin municipalities with more than 2,500 residents were asked a series of questions about the types of trees they prefer to plant (such as root stock type and caliper size), which lesser-used species they had successfully planted, which species they cannot find but would like to plant, and whether they use a gravel bed. Continue reading “New DNR Publication: Results of the 2020 Diverse Urban Species Survey”

DNR Leads Milwaukee Heat Mapping Project

Mitchell Park Domes. Credit: WDNR

Wisconsin DNR urban forest assessment specialist Dan Buckler had been monitoring weather forecasts for a month, waiting for just the right blisteringly hot day to launch a much-anticipated Milwaukee heat island mapping project. He’d been laser-focused on getting the one-day blitz in the books, and July 21 turned out to be go time.

The urban heat island effect explains the phenomenon that densely developed urban spaces are warmer than outlying places due to man-made surfaces (such as asphalt) absorbing and reradiating heat through the day and night. Trees are one method of reducing urban temperatures by providing shade and by putting more water vapor into the air via evapotranspiration.

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Urban Forestry Economic Analysis In Wisconsin

By Olivia Witthun, DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator in Plymouth, or 414-750-8744

Laura Buntrock, DNR Urban Forestry Partnership and Policy Specialist in Rhinelander, or 608-294-0253

Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist in Madison, or 608-445-4578

Ram Dahal, DNR Forest Economist in Madison, or 715-225-3892

We know that urban forests are a vital component of our economy and environment, making significant financial contributions to local, state and national economies, as well as providing critical ecosystem services. But until recently, the economic contribution of urban forestry has typically been aggregated into the broader green industry.


Background On The Study

In the Urban Forestry Economic Study, a ground-breaking study led by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Landscape Scale Restoration grant, a comprehensive analysis of the economic contributions of urban and community forestry was completed across the Northeast-Midwest region, which includes 20 states and Washington, D.C. (Figure 1). This analysis includes economic impact numbers, employment numbers, industry outlook and a resource valuation.

Figure 1. Map depicting the 21 states involved in the survey.

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Establishing Long-Term Plots to Understand Urban Forest Trends

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

How many sugar maple trees grow in our urban areas? Which species are exhibiting health declines? How many logs can be produced from removed ash trees? What is the carbon storage of urban forests? Where are invasive species most prevalent?

Please let us know if you know the answers, as that would save some time.

But in the absence of answers to those and many other questions, an incredible project is underway between the U.S. Forest Service, the Wisconsin DNR and contracted private foresters: the Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis (UFIA) program.

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Mapping Community Trees

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

The United States features a diverse yet complex group of people and locations. The U.S. Census Bureau regularly undertakes an attempt to catalog those people and places.

Likewise, many communities and organizations survey the trees they manage to better understand and maintain their urban forest.

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Please Help Guide The Future Of i-Tree

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

Whenever you hear about the benefits that trees provide to a home, community or region, there is a good chance that that information came from i-Tree, a suite of software from the USDA Forest Service and the Davey Tree Expert Company that quantifies forest structure and estimates trees’ benefits to the ecosystem. Within i-Tree, for example, a user can convert easy to-collect tree data, such as species and diameter, into estimates of the tree’s carbon storage, air pollution reduction or ability to prevent rainwater from entering the sewer system.

While i-Tree has been a foundational tool for telling the urban forest story from the local to global levels, the i-Tree program needs your help to adapt to tomorrow’s management challenges. They are urging current and future i-Tree users to attend one of three Town Hall sessions where you can share your thoughts on what i-Tree has meant to your work and how you think it should change for the future. The sessions are organized by experience level, but if you cannot make your preferred time, select any that might work for you. Additionally, if you cannot attend but are interested in providing feedback, please register as comments can be captured during the registration process.

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Understanding The Extent Of Invasive Species And Other Urban Forest Challenges

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

How extensive are buckthorn and other invasive species in our communities? We don’t know yet, but Wisconsin’s Urban Forest Inventory And Analysis (UFIA) project will be able to answer that and many other questions.

Buckthorn beneath dead ash trees at Big Foot Beach State Park. Photo by Bill McNee.

Besides simple stem counts, we can learn about the type of land where buckthorn is found, species under which buckthorn is growing and trends in invasive species expansion or decline over time.

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Protecting Our Urban Forests to Protect Our Globe’s Biodiversity

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

The natural world lost one of its most ardent champions last month with the passing of biologist Edward O. Wilson. Wilson was an extremely accomplished observer (especially of ants) and theorist of nature, winning two Pulitzer Prizes among many other awards and accolades. However, he dedicated himself to cultural and political campaigns to protect animal species and their homes for much of the last two decades.

Wildlife benefits are lumped in amongst other “ecosystem services” that urban forests provide, though they often play second fiddle to more human-centric contributions of trees.

Likewise, the urban forestry community’s excellent focus on species diversity (especially in light of emerald ash borer) is framed by diversity’s role in mitigating future damages and costs, rather than what diversity can offer to wildlife or any intrinsic value of maintaining many species on the landscape.

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DNR Releases New Climate Change And Urban Trees Story Map

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

Successfully planting a tree in an urban space is hard. There are so many factors to consider to ensure that the tree survives and thrives in its new home. Climate change may not be at the top of that list, but it should be one of the factors taken into consideration.

To help think through the topic, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released a new story map that explores urban trees and climate change in Wisconsin.

The new resource is organized into three main sections. The first provides a brief overview of projected changes in Wisconsin’s climate over the past century, specifically highlighting shifts in cold hardiness zones and heat zones. Precipitation patterns and intensities have and are projected to continue changing, though precipitation is not featured in the story map’s overview. For more information on that, scroll down to the precipitation section on the DNR climate science page.

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The Winter Triumph of the Evergreen

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

Sunlight fades, then sunlight grows. With those celestial rhythms surrounding the winter solstice, millennia of ritual have been shaped. Winter is historically an extremely dangerous time, in a way unfathomable to those of us with furnaces and stocked pantries. But at the winter solstice, something important happens: ever so gradually, the days start to lengthen, and there is hope that a bright, warm world will return.

That’s where evergreens enter the picture, plants that have been incorporated into solstice rituals since time immemorial because they show that life can continue through hardship. The foundational value of every Christmas tree, mistletoe sprig and holly branch is thus a symbol for life and the promise of rebirth comes with the winter solstice.

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