The draft individual tree data standard being produced as part of the COMMUNITREE project run by Forest Research, the Open University, Treework Environmental Practice and Natural Apptitude is now complete.

The Need to Standardise Individual Tree Data Collection

There has never been a more important or urgent time to collect data on urban trees. High quality data will help us harness the current wave of enthusiasm for tree planting, and to address the challenges to urban trees from pests, diseases, climate and development. However, the financial resources to support urban trees have declined rapidly in the past decade. As a result there has been little or no investment in long-term data collection programmes.

In the UK, urban tree data collection is undertaken by a variety of individuals from local authority Tree Officers to volunteer tree wardens and citizen scientists. Each organisation/ data collector has different reasons for collecting data and uses for the data they collect. Some of the differences in data collection between organisations will be the result of these different needs, but many differences are simply the result of different practices that have developed over time. The result is that data which exist within different organisations are not comparable or transferable.

There is no standardised database of urban trees and no consistent approach to data collection. This makes it difficult for organisations to work together on joint initiatives, to share resources, or to compare their assets in meaningful ways. Unfortunately this lack of resources and the lack of a standardised approach has hampered urban tree management and research in the UK.

In producing this new data standard the project hopes to establish some common-practise principles for data collection that underpin the way that data on trees are collected. The aim is to establish a standard for tree data collection that facilitates the use and sharing of tree data across the sector and makes the most of the data that are collected for the benefit of the whole sector.

Respond to the draft standard before 14 February 2020