Here in the Portland, our sense of place is rooted in a forested landscape. Early in its settlement by European Americans, land was quickly cleared, but soon after trees were planned for and planted as Portland developed, becoming an essential element in Portland’s neighborhoods, parks, and streets. Now, mature Douglas-fir trees frame a familiar view toward Mt Hood from Washington Park. Iconic Heritage Trees scattered throughout the city provide us with a living connection to Portland’s past. Towering elms of the downtown Park Blocks and oaks arching over boulevards of our earliest platted neighborhoods form the image of our city, our home.
We value trees for many reasons - for aesthetic value and sensory experience, the habitat they create for our wildlife, and for cleaner air and water. They also regulate summer temperatures, reduce crime, and calm traffic, among other benefits.
During the Tree Inventory Project we have been asking volunteers “Why do you inventory trees in Portland?”
“To do our share in the community, working together, outside!”
“Improve my tree knowledge.”
“To meet new neighbors in my new neighborhood and be with trees!”
“I volunteer to protect our urban forest.”
Portlanders treasure the trees that make up the forest where we live, work, and play. Between 2010 and 2016, over 1,300 volunteers together with Urban Forestry completed Portland’s Street Tree Inventory of over 218,000 trees. This work is evidence of our close connection with our community trees. Street trees are managed in partnership between PP&R Urban Forestry and property owners. Urban Forestry regulates street tree removal, planting, and maintenance through a permitting process, and homeowners are responsible for the care and maintenance. Because a healthy urban forest depends on the active engagement of neighbors to care for street trees, it was the perfect opportunity to begin the Tree Inventory Project in Portland. But our work isn’t over -- beginning in 2017, volunteers, partners, and Urban Forestry began the inventory of every tree in Portland’s parks! To date, over 15,000 trees in 100 parks across the city have been mapped, measured, and identified, aiding in their care and management for all Portlanders.
"I learned to identify trees, I participated in an activity in my neighborhood that gave me increased connections both to the physical environment and people in my neighborhood, I enjoyed every minute, and I learned about resources in Portland that are related to parks, trees, and environmental improvement."
Whether you’re an individual or a neighborhood group, there are many reasons to participate in the Tree Inventory Project.
The Tree Inventory Project offers opportunities for individuals to volunteer and get involved in caring for Portland’s trees. The Tree Inventory Project can help you:
- Learn to identify trees!
- Learn to assess tree health and site condition
- Gain experience collecting forestry data
- Meet other people who love trees
Tree Teams customize Trees Plans based on inventory results to address needs and goals for their particular neighborhood. Urban Forestry provides support to Tree Teams during and after the Tree Inventory Project to help groups interpret findings, solidify goals, propose a practical timeline, and staff appropriately. The Tree Inventory Project can help neighborhood groups:
- Learn more about neighborhood trees:
The inventory has mapped the location, size, and health of all street and park trees in the neighborhood.
- Find new places to plant trees:
The inventory identifies possible street tree planting locations, and maps them by priority.
- Increase neighborhood awareness of trees:
The inventory provides a powerful tool to educate neighbors about the important role of trees in their neighborhood.
- Develop a Neighborhood Tree Plan:
Neighborhood Tree Teams identify short and long-term goals based on inventory data, as well as action steps to meet goals.
- Build community:
Participating in inventory work days and on your Neighborhood Tree Team is a great opportunity to connect with neighbors who care about trees.
- Engage neighbors to help care for and protect existing trees:
As a volunteer-driven project, the inventory empowers neighborhoods to manage their urban forest from the ground up.
- Forge a partnership with Urban Forestry:
Urban Forestry commits to provide tools, staff time, and expertise to help neighborhoods complete the inventory and meet their Tree Plan goals.
Specifically, neighborhood participants receive:
- Custom site maps and excel sheets illustrating inventory findings.
- Detailed analysis of inventory data and recommended next steps for tree care.
- Support implementing actions to reach Neighborhood Tree Plan goals.
After completing an inventory of street or park trees, neighborhoods use the data to create a Tree Plan with concrete action items to improve neighborhood tree canopy. Urban Forestry helps neighborhoods implement the action items they choose to move forward with.
Some example action items are:
- Neighborhood pruning and young tree care workshops
- Neighborhood tree planting events
- Educational tree walks or tree bike tours
- Tree diversity workshops
- Tree pests and disease workshops
- "Pop-up Arboreta" in parks
- Virtual tours of neighborhood parks and their trees