BLOG: ‘All Our Trees’ springs into tree-surveying action...

8 August 2018

Here City of Trees Field Surveyor Jane (pictured left) shares her experiences about putting a price on Greater Manchester’s trees and woods…

I am part of the All Our Trees initiative which is now very much underway, delivered from City of Trees HQ in Salford. We have a team of around 18 Field Surveyors who are actively surveying thousands of random plots across Greater Manchester this summer.

Helping to secure our urban forests for the future…

Why? To calculate the economic value of all Greater Manchester's trees and woodlands of course!

Whilst most people recognise the importance of trees and woodlands, this is rarely quantified in terms of economic value and the ecosystem services that trees and woods bring including pollution reduction, carbon storage, mitigating the effects of climate change as well as health and wellbeing improvements.

This means that sometimes trees and woods are not considered to be important when making decisions about development and the use of land. Quantifying their benefits can ensure that their true value is recognised.

On a mission..

The surveyors’ mission is to gather a wealth of data about each site they visit such as plot cover (e.g. trees, shrubs, grass or non-organic materials) and numerous measurements of any trees present including tree species and dimensions of the  canopy as well as tree health and condition.

Pictured: Surveyor Laura checking tree condition


Digging deep for data…

The data collected will be input into an i-Tree Eco database, developed by the US Forestry Service, which will use the data to calculate the value of the ecosystem services provided by trees and the overall economic benefit that the combined trees and woodland in Greater Manchester bring to the city region.

It will generate a real monetary value of Greater Manchester’s tree-related benefits.

Creating a green-print for Greater Manchester…

The information gathered by the surveyors will be used to assess where new tree planting is needed, help protect existing trees and woodland, contribute to the new Northern Forest proposals and help frame new policy and planning decisions which get trees and woodlands up the agenda.

No typical day…

If there is one thing that could be said of the last 6 weeks I have been a Field Surveyor, it would be that there is no ‘typical day’ – and you never get bored!

Our usual starting point is either to join forces at City of Trees’ offices in Salford, or head to a pre-agreed location. Either way we need to make sure we are armed with our survey plot maps and all the equipment we need to gather data including a clinometer (to measure tree height), tape measure and all sorts of other cool equipment.

The plots themselves range from heavily wooded areas, fields with no trees, car parks, private gardens and industrial sites. Challenges such as brambles, nettles, steep terrain, streams, mud and wasp nests are also a usual occurrence!

Pictured: A Mature beech woodland plot from a distance.


Sometimes plots can be easy to access – others  mean we are trekking across un-named public roads, cottages and fields full of horses and sheep. The variety and stories certainly add to the surveying fun!

We use a combination of Googlemaps, GPS coordinates, phone and Garmin wristwatches to find the exact location.

If we come across private land we have to have a chat with the landowner to check we are OK to go onto the site – we’ve met some friendly farmers on our travels!

Once we’ve got access to the plot we then set about identifying the species and taking various measurements for each tree including diameter at breast height (DBH), tree-height, canopy width and depth, as well as estimating the health and life-expectancy of each tree.

We need to do some tree ID too – if we’re unsure we take a sample twig with leaves and photos of the trunk and canopy back to the experts at City of Trees for accurate identification.

It’s an amazing job really, and we’re often rewarded by visiting some beautiful sites and fantastic views – lunch is normally a picnic on site!

After we’ve finished for the day we check in with the team back into the office and hand in our survey forms ready to be added into the I-tree Eco software to be number crunched and used to help tell the story of what an amazing job the trees of Greater Manchester do for us!

Keep up to date! Our All Our Trees surveyors will be sharing more of their experiences in the field. Follow them @CityofTreesMcr #allourtrees