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Effect of Plot and Sample Size on Timing and Precision of Urban Forest Assessments

The purpose of this article is to illustrate how plot and sample size of randomly located circular plots in urban areas can affect data collection time, number of permissions needed to access plots, and precision of tree cover and total tree population estimates. This article pertains to UFORE or i-Tree Eco data collection.

Accurate field data can be used to assess ecosystem services from trees and to improve urban forest management, yet little is known about the optimization of field data collection in the urban environment. Various field and Geographic Information System (GIS) tests were performed to help understand how time costs and precision of tree population estimates change with varying plot and sample sizes in urban areas using random sampling approaches. Using one-tenth acre (0.04 ha) plots, it is estimated that, on average, approximately three plots per day can be measured with plot data collected on several variables for all trees greater than 1 in (2.54 cm) in diameter along with general plot, ground cover, and shrub data. A field crew of two people can gather approximately 200 one-tenth acre (0.04 ha) plots during a 14 week summer field season depending on city traffic, city area, and tree cover conditions. These 200 plots typically yield approximately a 12% relative standard error on the total number of trees.


D.J. Nowak, J.T. Walton, J.C. Stevens, D.E. Crane, R.E. Hoehn
Date Published
November 2008
International Society of Arboriculture
Champaign, IL
Arboriculture and Urban Forestry
Resource Format
Forest Management, Research Evaluation and Methodology, Inventory (forest), Computer Applications and Data
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