The University of Iowa

Manchester Digital Tree Inventory Tool

Tree Inventory
Academic Year 
2020-2021
College/Department 
Geographical & Sustainability Sciences
Project Partner 
Led by 

As part of the ICIGO student organization within the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, students conducted an on-site tree study and created a GIS-based digital inventory tool for city-owned trees in Manchester, Iowa.

Manchester representatives requested assistance with the process and identification of trees on public land within the city.  ICIGO students built a GIS-based tool that can be used on-site to build a comprehensive tree inventory, which includes geolocations and tree characteristics.  Students also spent several days in Manchester locating and assessing trees, and entering that information into the database.  The tool and a how-to guide were provided to the city to complete the inventory.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources websites explains the benefits to communities of maintaining a tree inventory:

The purpose of an inventory is to gather accurate information about the composition and condition of a community’s city-owned tree resources, so that the community is able to manage its trees most effectively.

Inventory and management plan benefits include:

  • Monetary valuation of the numerous benefits that trees provide to a community
  • Creation of a long-term management plan and justification for allocation of necessary funding
  • Identification and assessment of hazard trees, which pose a potential threat to life and property
  • Determination of short and long-term management and canopy goals
  • Prioritization of community’s forestry resources, including staff time and equipment, and increased efficiency of such resources
  • Maintenance and growth of a safe, healthy, and productive urban forest

Most importantly, the information gathered through an inventory and compiled into a management plan gives a community the tools it needs to move from a reactive position of responding to storm damage, invasive pests such as emerald ash borer (EAB), and other catastrophes after they occur, to a proactive position where it can potentially minimize the harm these events are capable of doing before they happen.