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Efficient assessments of urban tree planting potential around the southern Piedmont region of the United States

Formally Refereed
Authors: Krista Merry, Jacek Siry, Pete Bettinger, Michael Bowker
Year: 2013
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Environment and Urban Systems


Urban forest carbon offset projects have the potential todraw substantial amounts ofcarbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere ,increase green space,and possibly generate revenue for landowne rsincities capable of trading credits associated with these projects.The area of15cities inornear the Piedmont region of the southern United States onwhich trees could bepotentially planted was explored inthis analysis. The objectives were toassess astraightforward time-efficientmethod ofclassifying land and to determine the extent ofthe open and plantable areas inthese cities.Overall accuracy ofthe classifica- tion process ranged from about 69%to95%,and onaverage was80.1%.The average producer’s accuracy for all land classes inall 15cities was 84.2%,while the average producer’s accuracy for the open land class was 78.7%. The average user’s accuracy for all land classes and the open class was about 80%.Weestimate the amount ofopen,tree-plantable area inthese 15cities tobealittle over 43,300 hectares (ha),compa- rable to the size ofWashington,DC,orabout 36new Harvard Forests  (Massachusetts).Extrapolating these results tothe entire Piedmont region,the total plantable area incities would amount toabout 438,500 ha, and potentially allow 108 million tons of CO2 to besequestere d,with avalue ofabout 1.084 billion U.S. dollars.Given the small sample size and the variation within the results,the most con- servative 95% confidenceinterval around these estimates suggests that the plantable area today is between about 274,300 haand 645,100 ha.


Carbon sequestration, Carbon credits, Urban forests, Supervised classification, Landsat satellite imagery


Merry, Krista; Siry, Jacek; Bettinger, Pete; Bowker, J.M. 2013. Efficient assessments of urban tree planting potential around the southern Piedmont region of the United States. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems. 39: 39-47. 9 p.