SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York, to use US$566,963 in grants to enhance iTree computer application that uses Google satellite technology to show benefits of urban forest

LOS ANGELES , August 19, 2011 () – The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, New York, has been awarded US$566,963 in grants led by federal funding aimed at improving climate and public health with urban forestry projects.

The National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council made recommendations for the awards, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday. The recipients matched the awards to total almost $1.9 million.

ESF will receive $257,000 in funding direct from the U.S. Forest Service, and will provide matching grants, to improve the existing iTree software suite that provides urban planners and foresters with a means of determining how and where trees can best benefit their cities, towns, neighborhoods and municipal buildings, according to the Post-Standard in Syracuse.

The SUNY work will allow communities to plan urban forest designs and assess their impact on carbon storage, air temperature, energy use, and air and water pollution, an Aug. 16 USDA release said.

The application, available for free at, uses Google satellite technology to show property owners their land, while estimating the benefits of trees on their property, reported the Post-Standard.

Harris Sherman, undersecretary for natural resources and environment at the USDA said the goal was to educate the public about the relationship between urban forests, climate change and public health. He said the tool was easy to use, and could be accessed by large and small communities.

When ESF scientists finish refining iTree, users will be able to see, street-by-street, how trees can improve air quality, reduce carbon dioxide levels, cut storm-water runoff, and help save energy, the Post-Standard reported on Aug. 16.

Sherman said the application could also reveal things about tree health, and eventually will help understanding of the ecosystem services trees perform.

Project leader for the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station at the college, Dave Nowak, overseeing the work at SUNY-ESF, said that since iTree was first released about four years ago it was used by homeowners, landscape professionals and tree-care experts, and by cities around the world.

The primary source of this article is the Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York, Aug. 16, 2011.

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