Using i-Tree Eco to estimate vegetative debris volumes before and after a storm
Since i-Tree Eco uses randomly placed plots throughout an area-of-interest (such as a municipality), potential vegetative debris volumes can be estimated for developed or “improved” parts of that area before a storm for planning purposes. This document provides the steps necessary to use existing i-Tree Eco data to estimate potential vegetative debris volume.
Before a natural disaster such as an ice storm or wind event, it could be helpful for municipalities and local or county emergency managers to know and plan for potential vegetative debris volumes that these storms can generate. Debris volumes can be estimated for any combination of land use categories using data collected from an i-Tree Eco project, however, reimbursement for clean-up by FEMA is generally for developed or “improved” land use areas.
When setting up an i-Tree Eco project for a municipality or large area-of-interest, hundreds of 1/10th acre plots are randomly located throughout the entire area. These plots can fall on developed or non-developed areas as well as public and privately-owned land. All trees within these plots are inventoried. Using whole tree volume equations developed by Martin et al. (1998), total potential debris volumes can be estimated for the city.
With total potential debris volumes known, the municipality or emergency manager can then prepare for various disaster scenarios based on percentage of canopy loss. After a natural disaster has passed, a percentage of the measured plots can then be re-assessed to determine canopy loss and/or whole tree failure. That percentage of tree failure can then be applied to the original estimated debris volume to approximate the total volume of vegetative debris the city can expect to accumulate in the clean-up effort.
 Martin, J.G., Kloeppel, B.D.,Schaefer, T.L., Kimbler, D.L., and McNulty, S.G. 1998. Aboveground biomass and nitrogen allocation of ten deciduous southern Appalachian tree species. Can. J. For. Res. 28:1648-1659
Disaster, Inventory (forest), Storms (general)