Introducing the Tree Diversity Reporting Index: A New Tool to Assess Urban Forest Biodiversity

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In recent years, it has become a growing priority to establish and maintain resilient urban forests. This has been motivated, in part, by significant tree loss following varied pest and pathogen infestations, and in part, due to concerns regarding urban tree survival in changing climatic conditions. Plans for urban forest resilience are rooted in principles of urban forest biodiversity, begin with comprehensive inventories of urban tree cover, and are often laid out in urban forest management guidance documents. However, there are no universal standards with which this inventory data is presented in urban forest management plans, making it challenging to assess urban forest biodiversity and resilience within and among municipalities. 

A newly designed tool, the Tree Diversity Reporting Index (TDRI), introduces a standard by which urban forest diversity can be better reported within urban forest management plans. In this talk, Dowtin will introduce the TDRI tool and provide an overview of how TDRI values are both calculated and useful in developing goals for urban forest resilience. Dowtin will also provide guidance on how the TDRI can be utilized in the future development of urban forest management plans.

Dr. Asia Dowtin headshot

Dr. Asia Dowtin

Dr. Asia Dowtin is an Assistant Professor of Urban and Community Forestry in the Michigan State University Department of Forestry, where she teaches coursework in urban and community forestry. Her research uses in situ sampling and laboratory-based techniques to quantify hydrologic and nutrient cycling in the urban forest. In her work, she explores the relationships that exist between urban canopy structure, spatial context, and plant-water interactions to broaden our current understanding of the influence that species composition and surrounding land use have on urban forest function.

A major goal of Dr. Dowtin’s work is to utilize this knowledge to inform the development of urban forest management plans, specifically those intended to optimize yield of select regulating and supporting ecosystem services by municipal trees.

Michigan State University