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DDOT Announces Kickoff of Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis in the District of Columbia

Wednesday, June 13, 2018



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DDOT Announces Kickoff of Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis in the District of Columbia 

(Washington, DC) -- The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) today announced plans to conduct the first federal census of the District’s urban forest in partnership with the US Forest Service,  

DDOT's Urban Forestry Division (UFD) is working with SavATree Consulting Group to inventory trees on public, private, and federal lands across the District. 

"Mayor Bowser is committed to protecting and enhancing the environment and this initiative is a tremendous opportunity that will help us better understand and monitor our overall forest resources," said DDOT Director Jeff Marootian." "Trees are critical in preventing storm water runoff and improving air quality and their health and vitality is a core part of our mission at DDOT." 

Participation in the Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis (UFIA) Program is critical to understanding forest resources in the District, and with annual updates will reveal trends in tree loss or gains and any associated forest pests and pathogens. 

UFIA is part of the historic Forest Inventory and Analysis Program often called “The Nation’s Forest Census,” which has been monitoring the current status and past trends of the nation’s forests for nearly 80 years.

The District of Columbia is the first city to fully fund UFIA and administer its own contract. The District is also unique in conducting the urban forest inventory on an accelerated schedule, meaning that all 200 plots will be inventoried in one summer. This has many advantages, greater accuracy and precision in data collection and earlier access to FIA analyses, reports, and the My City’s Trees web application.

Why it is important

Urban FIA will reveal the type, age, and condition of trees across the District, as well as quantifying their benefits, such as cooling our neighborhoods, removal of air pollution, and retention of stormwater.  

Urban Forestry Division actively inventories and manages all public trees. However, much of the urban forest lies on private and federal land. Urban FIA will allow us to better understand the composition of the urban forest across the District and improve our management of these resources for the future generations.

How it will be done

US Forest Service staff randomly assigned about 200 plots across the District, each 1/6 acre in size. SavATree arborists will obtain permission to access any part of the plots located on private or federal property. Once on site, they will count and measure all trees greater than 5 inches in diameter, as well as percent cover of saplings and shrubs. 

The field methods are rigorously designed and standardized, so that data collected in the District will be comparable to other cities. The SavATree field crews meet the high standards of the FIA program and collected data will be inspected by USFS staff to ensure consistency and accuracy.

You may be contacted by a SavATree arborist to gain access to your property. Rest assured, data pertaining to trees and vegetation on any individual site will not be revealed as the location of these plots is confidential. It is our goal to inventory all land that falls within each plot, which likely will include private property.

If you are contacted and have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the arborists at SavATree. They will be happy to explain the process.

What you can do

If you receive notice in the mail, please take a couple minutes to read through the materials. Participating in the Urban FIA program is voluntary. If permitted access to property SavATree staff (all of whom will be carrying identification cards) will be on site from between half an hour to 10 hours depending on the amount and condition of vegetation within the sample area.

A variety of forest health factors will be monitored in the urban inventory, including:

  • Tree species – What trees species exist and what are most abundant?
  • Tree numbers and tree size – Is the urban area losing or gaining trees, and how quickly are trees growing?
  • Tree survival and mortality – How well are trees surviving in the urban area?
  • Tree crown condition – What is the overall health of a tree, how well is it growing, and how is it affecting plants growing underneath?
  • Tree Damage – Identifying damage will contribute to effective management plans.
  • Invasive plants – What species exist, and what is their abundance, distribution and effects on urban areas?
  • Ground Cover – Are there other plants, permeable (gravel, bare soil) or impermeable surfaces (asphalt, cement)?


The mission of the District of Columbia government's Department of Transportation (DDOT) is to enhance the quality of life for District residents and visitors by ensuring that people, goods, and information move efficiently and safely with minimal adverse impact on residents and the environment. Follow us on Twitter; like us on Facebook and Instagram. Visit the website at www.ddot.dc.gov. Visit goDCgo.com for more information.