Urban Forests – Composition – Cover Maps

Urban cover maps

UNRI scientists, working in the Northeastern Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (NE-FIA), located in Newtown Square, PA are working to document changes to landscapes due to development and urbanization. The Northeastern FIA unit has collected data on both the extent and location of forest fragmentation and the proximity to human development by using photo interpretation methods. These data include: a) the size of the continuous forested area in which the point falls, b) the distance from that point to the nearest developed land use, and c) the category of the nearest developed land use.

This sample interpretation, from 1:40,00 aerial photography, allows for the identification and “mapping” of some detailed distance and land use variables that are not currently available from other sources. The distribution of urban forest land was determined by using a GIS to combine the Bureau of Census urban area data in raster form with a forest/nonforest map produced by modifying the National Land Cover Data (NLCD). Forest land within the urban area boundary was considered urban forest.

Also, UNRI scientits at the Syracuse Reserach Unit, have completed research that has led to the assembly of a National Urban Forest Database and Summary Statistics for all fifty states. This resource, availble online, provides up to date information and scientific data, including maps, outlining the extent of urbanization on forested landscapes across the country.

For additional information on the research work of UNRI scientists related to Urban Cover Mapping, please visit the Northeastern Forest Inventory and Analysis Program or the Syracuse Reserach Unit websites.

Northern Research Station
United States Department of Agriculture
USDA Forest Service


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