Under the supervision of Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources (EENR) professor in urban forestry Jason Graboksy and Pam Zipse, outreach coordinator for Rutgers Urban Forestry Outreach Program and at the behest of the New Jersey Forest Service, two EENR undergraduate students, Ryan Schmidt and Brianna Casario, spearheaded the creation of a set of proposed inventory guidelines for beginning, improving, and established urban tree inventories in New Jersey communities during the summer of 2020.
With the intent of ensuring consistent collection of inventory data across the hundreds of communities within the state, the team worked to create both a glossary of well-defined terms to improve the communication within and between distinct communities and a rigorous set of inventory guidelines applicable to all of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities. This suite of adaptable, sliding-scale collection criteria has direct applications to the state Forest Service’s management plan guideline update which will include a section on tree inventory data collection. The work done by Schmidt and Casario provides information for municipalities on how to advance their individual urban forestry programs and is especially useful for establishing individualized early-stage programs.
Through this dynamic partnership, the New Jersey Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program at Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks & Forestry, New Jersey Forest Service has been able to advance their initiatives. Michael Martini, forester at the New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry Program at NJDEP acknowledged the positive impact the project, Proposed Guidelines for Beginning, Improving and Maintaining Municipal Tree Inventories for Dynamic Urban Forest Management, has had on the program’s future planning and implementation.
Martini stated, “We already see several ways in which we can use the results of their project to enhance our Program’s goals and initiatives; it has direct application to our management plan guideline update initiative which will include a section on tree inventory data collection.”
Martini added, “through this project, Ryan Schmidt and Brianna Casario showed an advanced understanding of the importance of knowing forest structure and composition holistically and how to integrate this into collection methodologies. They developed a 3-tier methodology on how to start, build and maintain inventory at the local level. Each of these tiers is further broken down into minimum, preferred and ideal criteria which allow some variation of where to begin and how to build inventory capacity over time. This flexibility and scaled inventory method takes into consideration whether the local government’s urban forestry program is just in its beginning stages, advanced, or somewhere inbetween. It provides direction to municipalities on how to move their urban forestry program forward and is especially useful for setting up early-stage programs and determining their needs.”
The development of the scaled inventory system provides the program with a greater understanding of how to adapt and implement better financial and technical assistance to local governments. Martini noted that Schmidt and Casario not only addressed the need for consistent inventory data but provided an outline approach on how to initiate such a program.
He concluded, “We thank both Ryan and Brianna for their dedication to this project and know that their efforts will have a positive impact on urban forestry management across the state. We also want to thank Dr. Graboksy and Pamela Zipse with their continued support/collaboration in providing summer interns and technical assistance for both our program and urban forestry in the state.”