Posted on: 7/31/2017 - Updated on: 2/27/2020

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i-Tree, developed by the U.S. Forest Service, is a peer-reviewed software bundle that facilities maximizing benefits from urban forestry efforts. i-Tree provides a variety of analysis tools, including urban forest ecosystem services and aesthetics benefits analyses, planting scenario evaluations, and canopy cover analyses. One tool, i-Tree Hydro, which is currently available only in a beta version, is of particular relevance to water resources management. i-Tree Hydro allows users to explore how changes in tree cover and in the extent of impervious land cover (e.g., pavement) impact streamflow and water quality, conditions that are related to urbanization, runoff, and erosion and are responsive to changes in climate (e.g., precipitation changes). With integrated topographic information and hourly U.S. weather data, i-Tree Hydro users can generate localized and elevation-specific models and compare how different land cover scenarios affect local hydrology at both the county or city level, as well as evaluate how changes in management practices, combined with different precipitation intensities and volumes, affect flood risk and water quality. These models can be used to inform urban management, planning, and design efforts, to facilitate the development of best management practices, and to help address water quality issues and climate change resilience (e.g., minimize flood risk) in different U.S. cities and counties.

Example in use: Researchers at Mississippi State University are using i-Tree to help enhance community understanding of and engagement with urban forestry in Mississippi and Alabama. Urban forestry can help enhance city resilience by mitigating urban heat islands and slowing stormwater runoff, increasing water quality. Volunteer groups in various cities are using i-Tree and other monitoring systems to help collect baseline information about urban forest characteristics in their different communities. Researchers hope to use this information to inform the development of Urban Forest Plans, making each community more resilient to climate change impacts.

Phase of Adaptation: Assessment, Planning


Urban planners, urban foresters, local and county planners, policymakers, public


USDA Forest Service

Managing Organizations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service is a Federal agency that manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. The Forest Service is also the largest forestry research organization in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the purpose of the Forest Service—"to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run."