The Urban Forest Effects Model (UFORE), designed by the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, has been used to quantify urban forest structure and numerous urban forest effects in cities worldwide. Over the summer of 2005, approximately 500 residents and businesses participated in the town's UFORE project. Randomly generated sample plots combined with local pollution and weather data were used to measure the air quality benefits provided by trees, shrubs and other types of vegetation growing throughout Oakville. These benefits were then converted to their economic value.
The Town of Oakville is the first municipality in Canada to reassess the information in the 2005 UFORE study, now called i-Tree and has re-measured 367 of the 372 plots in addition to five additional plots to determine the change in canopy, environmental quality and community livability over the past decade.
The results of the 2015 survey show that despite the significant impact of the 2013 ice storm, ongoing development and the damaging effects of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Oakville has increased its tree canopy by 1.3 per cent since 2005 to a total canopy coverage of 27.8 per cent.
The urban forest canopy cover originally reported in the 2005 study was 29.2 per cent. However, the data collection methods at the time of the study had an 80 per cent accuracy rating. To have a more accurate measure of the canopy, the 2005 data has been recalculated using 2015 technology, higher resolution aerial imagery and the advancements in the iTree software. The standard of error in calculating the canopy coverage has significantly improved to as low as .84 per cent. As a result, the corrected 2005 canopy cover is 26.5 per cent.
The results of the 2015 survey have been published in the report, Growing Livability – A Comprehensive Study of Oakville’s Urban Forest (pdf).
Highlights of the report include: