Urban Research Tree Project

In 2010 the Department of Agriculture surveyed the trees in the city of Chicago and assigned apriority planting index number to every census tract. We picked two census tracts in different locations in the city with the same priority planting index number to compare if the urban forest had changed: the census tract in Englewood right around Lindblom and a census tract in a wealthier north side neighborhood Ravenswood. We hypothesized that the wealthier neighborhood would have better investment in the urban forest than the poorer neighborhood. To learn more about tree surveying and how to identify species we partnered with Lindsay Darling, a botanist at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Students measured tree height, tree diameter (age metric), approximate canopy coverage, gps location and identified tree species.

Surveying in Engelwood

At the labs at the Chicago Botanic Garden with Lindsay Darling

After surveying half a census tract in both Englewood and Ravenswood students found a similar number of total trees and trees/ block, but several major differences. In Englewood the tree composition was dominated by elms and in Ravenswood by maples, but Englewood has a better species diversity. Ravenswood has a more severe overplanting of a single species/genus/family than Englewood making it more susceptible to disease. Ravenswood, however, does have more desirable species (maples). Upon plotting the lat/long of each tree in the region surveyed you can see that Englewood has more plant-able space despite having a similar number of trees. In Ravenswood they are very evenly distributed and in Englewood there are huge gaps and high density right around the school, which was renovated in 2003). Englewood does, however, have a more stable age structure than Ravenswood, primarily due to the large number of young trees planted around Lindblom when it was renovated. Englewood’s urban forest was surprisingly better than we expected compared with Ravenswood due primarily to the large number of young trees right around Lindblom itself. The survey showed there is room from more trees in Englewood, but investment has been made in the area (due to the school).