Inventory and Analysis of Landscape Trees and Urban Forests on the Main Campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia


During the 2017-2018 academic year, a complete field inventory was conducted of landscape trees and select urban forests on approximately 900 acres of the Virginia Tech main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The inventory was performed predominantly on maintained grounds near buildings, parking lots, streets, and other improved facilities. Trees in the immediate vicinity of Smithfield Plantation, along with a few notable trees in the outlying agriculture fields were included in the inventory. The bulk of these trees had been previously inventoried by undergraduate students at Virginia Tech during the period 2006-2011; therefore, the current inventory was predominantly an update of existing data. The inventory was expanded to include trees (that exceeded 12 inches in trunk diameter) in natural areas around the Grove and the Duck Pond. Large trees in the old-growth forest on the eastern boundary of campus near Lane Stadium (from here on, “Old-Growth Forest”), were previously inventoried by local volunteers in 2012. Those inventory data were not updated during this inventory, but the data are included in certain aspects of the analysis in this report. Not enumerated during the field inventory were trees residing at outlying facilities south of Southgate Drive and the various agricultural and unmaintained lands within main campus. Field data collection comprised geo-locating the trees, taking digital photos of the trees, and collecting data on 15 attributes that described the identity, size, condition, maintenance needs, and growing environment of the trees. All data were stored in a university GIS system and subsequently analyzed with an urban forest assessment software called i-Tree Eco. Contained in this report is an analysis of the composition and condition of this tree population using criteria and indicators commonly employed in urban forest assessment. The analysis is reported in two ways: (i) collectively for the main campus and (ii) broken down into campus master plan districts. Also reported are the outputs from the i-Tree Eco analysis, which describe the ecosystem services and economic value of the campus urban forest.

urban forest, urban forestry, tree inventory, landscape trees, tree canopy, campus master plan, campus sustainability, landscape architecture