Urban Forestry Capstone

Author’s Note

As a field arborist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, I get to experience firsthand the local urban forest and see how people’s actions are shaping the future of this vital resource. This blog post represents my efforts, as a graduate student at Oregon State University, to better understand the role of geographic information systems (GIS) and GIScience in urban forestry with the explicit goal of informing the direction and efforts of my capstone research project.

Trees and the urban forest (UF), as much as they are significant and valued components of sustainable and livable cities (Haaland & Van Den Bosch, 2015; Jim et al., 2018), are under pressure as cities begin to densify (Lin, Meyers & Barnett, 2015). Currently, the City of Calgary, Canada, is pursuing a laudable future growth pattern of a denser urban form and a more intensely used city footprint (CoC, 2020). This densification, in line with smart growth (EPA, 2021) in terms of reducing urban sprawl and needless development of working lands (Haaland & Van Den Bosch, 2015), is likely to have an impact on the form and function of Calgary’s UF. The focus of my capstone research project will look at Calgary, Canada, and examine the effect that urban densification is having on the UF with the goal to address the following questions:

  • What is the impact of urban densification on the urban forest of Calgary, Canada?
  • How is urban densification impacting the benefits derived from the urban forest in the present, and what will be the impacts in the future?
  • Is the urban forest being managed deliberately for desired outcomes, or are decisions being made in an incidental fashion?

The tools and techniques of geographic information science and systems (GISS) will help answer the fundamental questions of my capstone research project. I have prepared an annotated bibliography that has provided for an opportunity to merge class material with my research focus. The table below illustrates the linkage between these overarching questions to be answered, project objectives, and the specific GISS focus required to answer these questions.


City of Calgary (CoC)(2020). Municipal Development Plan 2020. Retrieved from https://www.calgary.ca/content/dam/www/pda/pd/documents/municipal-development-plan/2020-municipal-development-plan.pdf

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(2021). Smart Growth. Retrievd from https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth

Haaland, Christine, and Van Den Bosch, Cecil Konijnendijk. (2015). Challenges and Strategies for Urban Green-space Planning in Cities Undergoing Densification: A Review. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 14(4), 760-71. Web.

i-Tree (n.d.) https://www.itreetools.org/

Jim, C.Y. & Konijnendijk van den Bosch, Cecil & Y. Chen, Wendy. (2018). Acute Challenges and Solutions for Urban Forestry in Compact and Densifying Cities. Journal of Urban Planning and Development. 144. 10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-5444.0000466.

Lin, Meyers, & Barnett. (2015). Understanding the potential loss and inequities of green space distribution with urban densification. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 14(4), 952-958.

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