Combining biophysical and socioeconomic suitability models for urban forest planning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Urban forests are landscape mechanisms that provide ecosystem services and positive health benefits. However, many urban areas lack canopy coverage and continue to lose coverage through land cover change and tree mortality. In the United States, neighborhoods dominated by lower socioeconomic incomes (<US$24,000 median household income) are largely devoid of mature tree canopy cover, which compounds existing socioeconomic issues such as preventable adverse health conditions. This project demonstrates how geospatially combining biophysical attributes with socioeconomic conditions can be used to preliminarily identify opportunities for tree canopy enhancement and establishment, specifically in Lexington, Kentucky (USA). Using ESRI's ArcGIS and publicly available data, a raster weighted overlay suitability modeling approach was used to combine ten biophysical and socioeconomic factors to identify first-pass planting site opportunities. A visual accuracy assessment using aerial imagery and field inspection of model results indicated that the approach was identifying sites conducive to planting trees. In general, the suitability approach often identified relatively small areas for planting opportunities. This approach provides a starting point for community involvement regarding municipality specific model development and implementation. With this flexible suitability modeling approach, we demonstrate how a community can combine biophysical and socioeconomic data in a planting site selection approach to meet local conditions and desires for tree planting strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-382
Number of pages12
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier GmbH


  • Forest fragmentation
  • GIS
  • Overlay analysis
  • Restoration
  • Social justice
  • Urban forest
  • Urban heat island

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Combining biophysical and socioeconomic suitability models for urban forest planning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this