GIS and Inventory Systems

kmac

Member
Location
Missouri
Didn’t seem to have much use in urban settings

LiDAR is incredibly useful in urban settings actually... When combined with a multispectral scanner or land use data, they can codify the returns to low, medium, and high vegetation as well as buildings, power lines, etc... which can really help with measuring an urban tree canopy. Then considering the fact that many trees in urban environments are on private property, this gives you a means for at least getting some basic measurements from them without having to walk on to private property. It's application is broad and far reaching, so it can honestly be used anywhere.

If you're going to be using GIS for more traditional forestry, I'm afraid I can't help you too much there other than you can do some basic remote sensing, load in soils data, set up your timber cruise transects and what not... I've got a degree in forestry but I don't know squat about traditional forestry, just didn't appeal to me like urban forestry did so you may want to consult with someone with timber cruising experience and get their input.
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
Yeah after posting that I revisited it and saw there was definitely applications for it in urban settings.

probably should have been more clear. My interest in forestry management is from an ecological perspective; preservation, restoration and eradication of non native species. Not so much harvest as there is none of that where I live.
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
So does anyone have a good rec for an online course? I'm in an intro class at my local state college but it's all online and honestly they don't seem very prepared for this style of learning. Lot's of theory, no actual usage of any programs yet. The professor is just assigning chapters to read with no actual teaching taking place and having us discuss amongst ourselves. Not going to pull out quite yet as I have until Oct 22 but thinking there's got to be better online programs.

I'll do the obligatory google search myself, but curious if anyone knows of an established program personally.

@kmac @ATH
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
Are you learning ESRI? If so can you afford to buy the license for a year? There are a lot of online tutorials from the company. Last I knew they were free.... I think I had mentioned earlier that if I was motivated I could have spent a lot of time learning that at my previous employer.I was planning to just use the online tutorials that ESRI has. I would find it honestly harder to learn that way because if there are no deadlines or somebody asking me where my work is it may never happen! The resources are there...
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
Are you learning ESRI? If so can you afford to buy the license for a year? There are a lot of online tutorials from the company. Last I knew they were free.... I think I had mentioned earlier that if I was motivated I could have spent a lot of time learning that at my previous employer.I was planning to just use the online tutorials that ESRI has. I would find it honestly harder to learn that way because if there are no deadlines or somebody asking me where my work is it may never happen! The resources are there...
I was just checking out the ESRI site. I found a few free classes but a lot in the $700-2100 range. We haven’t even touched on any of the programs which is part of the frustration.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
I think if you have the program some of the online tutorials are free... But the program is not cheap! It may be cheaper to be enrolled in a class at a community college using their enterprise license while you learn it???
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
I think if you have the program some of the online tutorials are free... But the program is not cheap! It may be cheaper to be enrolled in a class at a community college using their enterprise license while you learn it???
Yeah that’s a good point. The individual price is 100/yr which is easily worth it for me.
 
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ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
Wow... I thought it was a lot more than that. It's been years since I've looked at it.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
saw this on the product description:
"Unlimited access to self-paced e-Learning on the Esri Training website"

Must what I had looked at in the past,
 

kmac

Member
Location
Missouri
If you're enrolled in a college taking a GIS class, check to see that you don't already have access to the ESRI training website. With that course, you should have access to an ArcMap/ArcGIS Pro license so that you can use the software on your laptop, no point in paying $100 for something you may already have access to.

The ESRI website should have a lot of content that is included with your license... only a few of those are full on classes that cost $$$. Many of them should be free as far as the basics are concerned... they'll usually say "Maintenance Required" with an unlocked padlock symbol, those are the free classes you can take.

The trouble with learning this way is that it can be difficult to learn without a road map and end goal... especially as it pertains to tree inventories. I wouldn't discount your college course though just yet as the theory behind GIS is pretty important in understanding what all of the components are such as PCS vs GCS, raster and vector data, basic cartography principles, remote sensing, feature data storage formats, geodatabase design, and etc...

However, if things don't improve by the deadline to drop, look into "MOOCs" aka Massive Open Online Courses that are offered through websites such as Coursera, edx, and Udemy. They are usually much cheaper and a lot of them are offered by large universities or industry professionals, so you'd be getting hopefully decent instruction. Just go on one of those websites and search GIS and there should be a few introduction to GIS classes. For example, here's one that is taught by someone at the University of Toronto (and it's apparently free!). The big upside to these courses is that many of them were designed from the start to be taught online.

Realistically, you can take one of those introductory courses and be competent enough to put together a tree inventory for someone or some organization... but that first project you undertake is going to be a giant PITA as there will be a lot of specific things you'll need to learn. So while you may understand what a file geodatabase is, how to create and edit features, use the field calculator, and make basic maps in the layout view... there's a whole other world of things you'll have to eventually start considering and incorporating into your projects to become more efficient, scalable, and profitable.
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
Thanks @kmac. I’m still at a point the money would be returned so the ESRI courses may be worth it at $100 or at least a more established online course. I do agree about a roadmap and deadlines being the best way, at least for me, to learn. Which is why I went with a course in the first place.

definitely learned a lot so far, but I can read the textbook on my own time and get to learning the programs.
 

kmac

Member
Location
Missouri
Is there an established system for plant diversity ranking?

Not really, but there are a few that you could use.

The most simple and probably most well known (although not a true index of diversity) is the 10-20-30 rule where in a given inventory there should be no more than 10% of a single species, 20% of single genus, and 30% of a single family. Showing the top 10 of each taxa relative to it's part of the 10-20-30 rule should satisfy the needs of whoever you're doing the inventory for.

There are indexes such as the Simpson index and Shannon-Weiner index, but those are usually for samples of a population rather than for a complete inventory but I think they could work.

If you're looking for a different index, I'd recommend deriving an importance value derived from the relative abundance (taxa count / total number of taxa) and relative dominance (total basal area for taxa / total basal area for all taxa) of each taxa. The importance value can be calculated by getting the sum of relative abundance and dominance. I'll have to double check this one, it's been a minute.

Just as an FYI too, I'd recommend in your inventories to have fields for Family, Genus, and Species but also one for the botanical/scientific name. Reason being is that for the most part Family and Genus' won't share names but species will, so be sure to use the scientific name when you're calculating at the species level. An example would be Thuja occidentalis and Platanus occidentalis... both have the same species name, yet are two totally different trees but may be counted as the same if you calculate the species diversity based on just the species name alone instead of the scientific name.

Regardless, just find one that will work for you and stick with it. As far as inventories and UTC's are concerned, there's not yet an official BMP on how you should present your data or what datasets you should use.
 
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kmac

Member
Location
Missouri
Thanks @kmac. A friend recommended the Simpson and Shannon-Weiner index’s and I’ll check the 10-20-30 rule as well as the other suggestions.

If you use Simpson’s index, I’d recommend using the inverse Simpson index. Instead of a lower number representing greater diversity, the inverse index will be a higher represents a greater diversity.

I highly recommend using the 10-20-30 rule with an accompanying bar graph showing the distribution of taxa as percentages and how close they are to that threshold for that taxa though, that’ll be easiest for most people to understand.

Here is an example:
 

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Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
The 10-20-30 rule definitely makes more sense in the arbor realm.

Would the Simpson or Shannon Weiver have the ability to build a rating system that puts a simplified number value on it, just a 0-10 type rating?
 

kmac

Member
Location
Missouri
The 10-20-30 rule definitely makes more sense in the arbor realm.

Would the Simpson or Shannon Weiver have the ability to build a rating system that puts a simplified number value on it, just a 0-10 type rating?


I'd honestly just keep it simple and just use the 10-20-30 rule to display diversity... it'll be much easier to digest for whoever you're doing the inventory for and will allow them to do the calculations themselves in the future if they keep their inventory data updated. The Shannon-Weiner and Simpson Indexes are great for research and forest ecology and can work for urban environments, but why make more work for yourself by having to explain what those indexes are in your report and how you derived those numbers? It's much easier to just show them a graph and explain to them that no taxa should go above those limits.

One thing I also forgot to mention is that it's kind of pointless to do a one off calculation of one of those indexes for a single urban forest analysis. Unless you're splitting up your AOI by parcels and calculating the diversity indexes for each parcel and then comparing/ranking them or comparing one urban forest to another , there's really no point. The Shannon-Weiner and Simpson indexes are really only used within a scientific context i.e. journal articles and research.
 

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