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The right tree in the right place : using GIS to maximize the net benefits from urban forests

Grant, Sean LU (2016) In Master Thesis in Geographical Information Science GISM01 20161
Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Abstract
Ecosystem services have been widely discussed as of late, and more so than ever, has the topic of resilience and sustainable city planning taken an important role in the debate over how we can meet the present challenges concerning livable cities. The costs and the benefits of urban trees is an important factor in sustainable city planning and their consideration early in the planning stages cannot be understated.

This study outlines methods whereby potential costs and benefits can be identified so that the right species of tree can be selected and positioned based on the desire to minimize costs and conflicts while at the same time maximizing the ecosystem services provided by trees in the urban environment.

Geographic Information... (More)
Ecosystem services have been widely discussed as of late, and more so than ever, has the topic of resilience and sustainable city planning taken an important role in the debate over how we can meet the present challenges concerning livable cities. The costs and the benefits of urban trees is an important factor in sustainable city planning and their consideration early in the planning stages cannot be understated.

This study outlines methods whereby potential costs and benefits can be identified so that the right species of tree can be selected and positioned based on the desire to minimize costs and conflicts while at the same time maximizing the ecosystem services provided by trees in the urban environment.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis

GIS is a powerful tool able to carry out repeated complex analysis on large quantities of data while continually making adjustments, both large and small, in order to provide different alternatives to a complex problem. The ability to systematically asses the interactions between trees and infrastructure, while at the same time including variables not easily measured, such as aesthetic value, is what makes GIS a suitable tool for evaluating the ecosystem services provided by trees in the built-up environment.

Green Area Factor (GAF) and Service Providing Units (SPUs)

Within the course of this study a variety of spatial analysis tools, such as buffers, intersects and overlays, were applied to input data consisting of tree species, trees position and surface types in order to assess the interactions between trees and their surroundings with respect to potential ecosystem service provision and eventual conflicts. The results of these interactions are expressed in terms of SPUs based on GAF. GAF is a method where a surface is evaluated based on its eco-effective properties, or in other terms, its ability to minimize the negative effects of climate change, increase the social value of the space while also promoting high levels of biodiversity.

Ecosystem service evaluation

Using simple vector inputs, GAF values and a series of spatial analyses, the level of ecosystem services for both a large and small scale study area were analyzed using a variety tree species scenarios in order evaluate the gains and losses of SPUs and the overall ecosystem service levels achieved based on the choice and placement of trees in the urban landscape.

Keywords: Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis, GIS, Urban forest, Ecosystem service, Grönytefaktor, Green Area Factor
Advisor: Dan Metcalfe
Master degree project 30 credits in Geographical Information Sciences, 2016
Original title: The Right Tree in the Right Place: Using GIS to Maximize the Net Benefits from Urban Forests
Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University
Thesis nr 54 (Less)
Popular Abstract
The Right Tree in the Right Place

It is safe to say that most people appreciate trees and see the value in having parks full of them for recreation, aesthetic purposes and the countless other ecosystem services provided. Unfortunately specific trees in specific locations are not always appreciated and can, in some cases, be the source of conflict! These conflicts can vary in their nature but are often costly, be it in monetary terms, such as a tree damaging the surrounding infrastructure, or costly in terms of the time and energy required to resolve them. Careful planning at an early stage, that is to say before the building is built or the tree put in the ground, is required to be able to maximize the benefits from trees while... (More)
The Right Tree in the Right Place

It is safe to say that most people appreciate trees and see the value in having parks full of them for recreation, aesthetic purposes and the countless other ecosystem services provided. Unfortunately specific trees in specific locations are not always appreciated and can, in some cases, be the source of conflict! These conflicts can vary in their nature but are often costly, be it in monetary terms, such as a tree damaging the surrounding infrastructure, or costly in terms of the time and energy required to resolve them. Careful planning at an early stage, that is to say before the building is built or the tree put in the ground, is required to be able to maximize the benefits from trees while minimizing the costs. In doing so we can get the most out of our urban forests while at the same time giving something back to nature.

We live in an era where information is readily available and accessible, such as geographic information in the form of Open Street Maps or Google Earth. There are also many types of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) available, some even free of charge. With all of this technology at our disposable it should be fully possible that, with the right inputs, an analysis can be conducted, be it simple or advanced, to ensure the right tree is planted in the right place.

Trees, GIS and Green Area Factor (GAF)

This project describes a method of how specific tree species can be spatial analyzed in conjunction with GAF, which is, in short, a system of evaluating the ecosystem service providing potential of outdoor surfaces, in order to provide an in-depth analysis of how tree species choice and placement affects the overall ecosystem service levels of a planned landscape. These levels are expressed in Service Providing Units, or SPUs, with the intention that the analysis can be run repeatedly after making adjustments with respect to species choice, placement or even to address specific issues such as poor air quality.

Trees, due to their relative long life spans, can be considered permanent structures in our built-up environment and it is therefore important that species choice, placement and maintenance requirements are tailored to the requirements and conditions of the planned landscape. If proper consideration is taken to these aspects using modern day tools and technology then the right tree will end up in the right place. Furthermore, the ecosystem services, aesthetic appreciation and life-span of the tree will be maximized while the negative aspects, such as tree care costs or damage to infrastructures, will be minimized. Only after doing so can the full value of a tree be perceived, respected and appreciated.



Keywords: Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis, GIS, Urban forest, Ecosystem service, Grönytefaktor, Green Area Factor
Advisor: Dan Metcalfe
Master degree project 30 credits in Geographical Information Sciences, 2016
Original title: The Right Tree in the Right Place: Using GIS to Maximize the Net Benefits from Urban Forests
Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University
Thesis nr 54 (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Grant, Sean LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The Right Tree in the Right Place
course
GISM01 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
ecosystem service, urban forest, Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis, GIS, grönytefaktor, green area factor
publication/series
Master Thesis in Geographical Information Science
report number
54
language
English
id
8890608
date added to LUP
2016-09-06 14:57:27
date last changed
2016-09-06 14:57:27
@misc{8890608,
  abstract     = {Ecosystem services have been widely discussed as of late, and more so than ever, has the topic of resilience and sustainable city planning taken an important role in the debate over how we can meet the present challenges concerning livable cities. The costs and the benefits of urban trees is an important factor in sustainable city planning and their consideration early in the planning stages cannot be understated. 

This study outlines methods whereby potential costs and benefits can be identified so that the right species of tree can be selected and positioned based on the desire to minimize costs and conflicts while at the same time maximizing the ecosystem services provided by trees in the urban environment. 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis 

GIS is a powerful tool able to carry out repeated complex analysis on large quantities of data while continually making adjustments, both large and small, in order to provide different alternatives to a complex problem. The ability to systematically asses the interactions between trees and infrastructure, while at the same time including variables not easily measured, such as aesthetic value, is what makes GIS a suitable tool for evaluating the ecosystem services provided by trees in the built-up environment.

Green Area Factor (GAF) and Service Providing Units (SPUs)

Within the course of this study a variety of spatial analysis tools, such as buffers, intersects and overlays, were applied to input data consisting of tree species, trees position and surface types in order to assess the interactions between trees and their surroundings with respect to potential ecosystem service provision and eventual conflicts. The results of these interactions are expressed in terms of SPUs based on GAF. GAF is a method where a surface is evaluated based on its eco-effective properties, or in other terms, its ability to minimize the negative effects of climate change, increase the social value of the space while also promoting high levels of biodiversity. 

Ecosystem service evaluation

Using simple vector inputs, GAF values and a series of spatial analyses, the level of ecosystem services for both a large and small scale study area were analyzed using a variety tree species scenarios in order evaluate the gains and losses of SPUs and the overall ecosystem service levels achieved based on the choice and placement of trees in the urban landscape. 

Keywords: Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis, GIS, Urban forest, Ecosystem service, Grönytefaktor, Green Area Factor
Advisor: Dan Metcalfe 
Master degree project 30 credits in Geographical Information Sciences, 2016 
Original title: The Right Tree in the Right Place: Using GIS to Maximize the Net Benefits from Urban Forests
Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University
Thesis nr 54},
  author       = {Grant, Sean},
  keyword      = {ecosystem service,urban forest,Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis,GIS,grönytefaktor,green area factor},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis in Geographical Information Science},
  title        = {The right tree in the right place : using GIS to maximize the net benefits from urban forests},
  year         = {2016},
}