Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Forestry

Major Professor

Sharon R. Jean-Philippe

Committee Members

Adam Willcox, John Zobel, Tom Simpson

Abstract

Proper management by a trained urban forester is essential for the health of urban trees, due to the adverse growing conditions they face. Unfortunately, many cities do not have the luxury of employing an urban forester for various reasons, which is the case for the City of Oak Ridge, TN. This study utilized inventory data of the street trees, park trees, and trees surrounding the municipal complexes in Oak Ridge, as well as evaluated park visitor satisfaction in three of the city parks through the use of a survey to aid in the development of an urban tree management plan. Understanding what plant species are growing within cities and the benefits associated with those trees are only small parts of proper urban tree management. Additionally, assessing citizens’ attitudes towards the benefits of vegetation in areas such as city parks is important, due to the fact that the purpose of these areas is public enjoyment.

The total urban tree inventory was completed over two years and consisted of 2,442 trees (H’ = 3.55). The inventory data was utilized to calculate benefit estimations for the city in the software program i-Tree, producing a total $133,796 in benefits, and a benefit-cost ratio of 0.90. For the park visitor survey, a total of 263 people participated in the survey among the three parks. Survey results revealed that for the two future management factors produced (future planting efforts and future tree care) there was a significant relationship for both factors with attitudes toward trees as well as a significant relationship between future planting efforts and visitor personal preference of park aspects.

The inventory data, i-Tree benefit estimations, and survey results were used to aid in the development of a 10-year management plan for the city of Oak Ridge. This management plan contains 1) specific guidelines for proper tree care, 2) planting protocols, 3) strategies to manage pest or disease outbreaks, and 4) guidelines for raising public awareness of the urban forest through citizen engagement outreach programs. The management plan will be completed and presented to the city of Oak Ridge in September of 2015.

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