Case Study: Helping Northern Kentucky plan for a sustainable tree canopy

We had a great visit last week with the Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council (NKUCFC). NKUCFC had a grant from the US Forest Service, State & Private Forestry via the Kentucky Division of Forestry to obtain an urban tree canopy assessment and planting plan for Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties. NKUCFC selected the Consulting Group at SavATree for the assignment. Our team includes Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne and the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab, the leaders in urban tree canopy remote sensing, and Clark University Doctoral Student Dexter Locke, who developed the urban tree canopy Prioritization protocols for New York City. Using remote sensing imagery and LiDAR data, we created a high resolution land cover data set of the study area.

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We were then able to mash these up with various GIS data to perform analyses like the assessment of existing and potential tree canopy per parcel shown above. A variety of sustainability analyses were included per NKUCFC's direction.

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Assessing the potential for vegetative buffer enhancement in floodplains is useful in resilience planning

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We found a statistically significant relationship between tree canopy and surface temperature in Northern Kentucky. Trees are cool - literally

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Forest patch analyses are useful in biodiversity and habitat planning We also provided some products to summarize results effectively for general audiences.

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Everyone is working with limited resources and so all need to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. We worked with the Council to determine desired outcomes, map them spatially, prioritize them, and create a map that lets them know where to plant and protect trees to reach their goals most efficiently.

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Finally, we created a web app that allows members to access prioritization data on a desktop, tablet or phone. In the latter cases, they can use the device's GPS to determine if they are in a priority area, identify and measure potential planting areas, and print results to PDF for planning purposes.

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This has been a fantastic project and we're grateful to USFS State & Private Forestry and the Kentucky Division of Forestry for recognizing the value of such efforts and providing funding. We are very thankful for the opportunity to work with NKUCFC to fulfill its mission of fostering green, liveable communities for Northern Kentucky. NKUCFC's expertise and input helped make the project a success. Many thanks to Planning and Development Services of Kenton County for hosting our meetings. We look forward to following NKUCFC's implementation of these tools and their ongoing efforts to help people + trees in cities.
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